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President Biden will sign documents supporting Sweden and Finland’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday.
“I look forward to signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two powerful democracies, with highly capable militaries, to the greatest defense alliance in history,” Biden said in a statement last week after the Senate overwhelmingly approved his membership.
The membership of Finland and Sweden is the first significant expansion of the alliance since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. His acceptance into the bloc represents a rebuke to Russia amid its ongoing aggression against Ukraine.
The Senate approved the measure in a rare show of bipartisan support, voting 95-1 last week in favor of the extension. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the only senator to vote against the measure, arguing it would take attention away from China, whom he considers America’s primary geopolitical foe.
NATO makes the right call in Sweden, Finland in big, bold move
“We can do more in Europe… devote more resources, devote more firepower… or we can do whatever it takes to deter Asia and China. We can’t do both,” Hawley said, according to the Associated Press.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the news, arguing the move would enhance national security.
“His entry will strengthen NATO and make America more secure. If any senator is looking for a plausible excuse to vote no, I wish them well,” McConnell said.
Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO came in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, with membership of the alliance strongly opposed by the Kremlin.
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NATO’s 30 current member states signed the Accession Protocol for the two countries last month, clearing the way for members to formally ratify their membership.
All 30 current NATO members must approve the decision to allow Finland and Sweden membership before being protected by Article Five of the NATO Charter, which states that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all members.
Canada, Germany and Italy have already approved the accession of the two countries.