US Senate approves NATO membership for Sweden, Finland
Washington, Aug 3 (EFE).- The United States Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to approve North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership for Sweden and Finland.
The upper house voted 95 in favor and one against to expand the bloc of American and European allies, with the membership bid of Sweden and Finland prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It sends a warning shot to tyrants around the world who believe free democracies are just up for grabs,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said. “Russia’s unprovoked invasion has changed the way we think about world security.”
US President Joe Biden said in a statement that “this historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
“I look forward to signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two strong democracies with highly capable militaries, into the greatest defensive alliance in history,” he added.
The Senate also approved an amendment stating that all NATO members must by 2024 spend a minimum of 2 percent of their GDP on defense and 20 percent of their defense budget on major equipment, research and development.
NATO leaders agreed at their summit in Madrid at the end of June to start the admission process for Sweden and Finland. Both countries provisionally have observer status and will become full members when the 30 members of the alliance ratify access.
Sweden and Finland delivered their applications on May 18 at the NATO headquarters in Brussels at a meeting of their respective ambassadors to NATO with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Turkey had initially vetoed its entry and demanded more cooperation in the fight against organizations described as terrorists by Ankara, but eventually reached an agreement with Sweden and Finland, in which Stoltenberg mediated and which had the approval of the US.
The entry of Sweden and Finland will allow NATO alternative maritime and air corridors in support of the Baltic countries.
Republican US Senator Josh Hawley was the only one who voted against their membership on Wednesday. He said the expansion will imply new obligations for the United States, convinced that his country’s focus should not be on Europe, but on Asia, to counter the growing Chinese threat. EFE