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Biden Supports Sweden and Finland’s NATO Bid

Photo: NPR

On Thursday, President Joe Biden stated that Finland and Sweden have “full, total, complete backing” of the United States for their appeal to join NATO, the alliance that has been a foundation of Western bulwark since the Cold War. 

The leaders of the three countries: Biden, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, held a meeting at the White House Rose Garden. Biden stated that he was dispatching paperwork to Congress on Thursday to aid approval of their applications. 

“Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger,” said Biden. “And a strong, united NATO is the foundation of America’s security.” 

The move to approve both nations’ appeal for NATO enlistment will be an atypical bipartisan success, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell giving their backing to the decision. 

“I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join,” stated McConnell following speaking with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday. 

The two nations appealed to join the alliance after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. However, their enlistment is a long shot from certainty. Turkey, a member of NATO, has stated that it will dismiss any bid by the two Nordic countries due to their backing of Kurdish groups that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers terrorist groups. 

“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” stated Erdogan last week. 

Biden seemed to agree to those worries when he queried the Senate to ratify the two nations’ application “once the perspectives of all allies are addressed, and NATO adopts the accession protocols.” 

Finish leader Niinisto addressed Turkey’s worries about his nation’s appeal to NATO, stating that Helsinki was “open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner.” 

He revealed that a few of those talks had already started and would keep going. 

Swedish Prime Minister Andersson described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a “watershed moment for Sweden,” a country that has kept a policy of military impartiality for hundreds of years, even amid the two world wars. 

Andersson stated that she highly regards the bipartisan backing in Washington for her nation’s NATO bid. Like Niinisto stated, her nation discussed with all NATO members, counting Turkey, “on different levels to sort out any issues at hand.”

Biden also tackled concerns that Finnish and Swedish enlistment in NATO might fan the already burning flames in neighboring Russia. Putin is against the expansion of NATO, viewing it as targeted to Russia and its borders. 

“New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation,” Biden stated. “In the face of aggression, NATO has not grown weaker or more divided. It has grown stronger, more united.” 

Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s employee and now the Center for a New American Security senior, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, said in an interview with NPR that the risks Finland and Sweden may experience from Russia are not that extreme. 

“I think that Russia is too bogged down with its war in Ukraine. And I think that’s exactly that calculus that Finland and Sweden have, that they see that Russia is distracted, and it gives them this window to make a move,” said Kendall-Taylor.

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