UNITED STATES: On Wednesday, US Senators delivered a near-unanimous bipartisan approval to induct Sweden and Finland into the NATO pact, calling the expansion of the Western defensive block inevitable, required especially to counteract Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Clearing a landslide victory with 95-1 votes, Finland and Sweden were officially recognized as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This highly political and military move was long avoided since Russia launched its “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24.
The two Scandinavian countries finally took their positions among the United States and other democratic allies in Europe. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer invited the two nations’ ambassadors to the chamber gallery to witness this historic decision.
President Joe Biden has long been calling for military and economic support for war-torn Ukraine and its humanitarian crisis and has eventually secured the entry of these two previously non-militarily aligned Western countries.
In the roughly three months since they applied for membership, these two countries’ candidacies have been ratified by more than half of NATO countries. The primary goal of this special membership is to send a strong message of retaliation to Russia.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat leader from Minnesota, said, “It sends a warning to tyrants worldwide who believe free democracies are just up for grabs. Russia’s unprovoked invasion has changed how we think about world security.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had visited Kyiv earlier this year, also urged this unanimous approval, saying, “Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure. If any Senator is looking for a defensible excuse to say no, I wish them good luck.”
McConnell also highlighted the intricacies and advanced technological know-how involved in Finland and Sweden’s well-funded and modernizing militaries and their experience working with the US military, calling it a ‘slam-dunk for the national security of the United States.
The singular no vote came from an ardent Trump supporter and staunch Republican, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri, who took the floor to remind the senate not to deviate from the US’s premium rival, China, not Russia.
US State and Defense officials consider this unique and much-needed introduction as profitable and militarily advantageous, as the two countries will inadvertently strengthen NATO’s defence posture in the Baltics.
Moreover, Finland is expected to exceed NATO’s 2 per cent GDP defence spending target in 2022, and Sweden has committed to meet the 2 per cent goal.