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President Biden is set to sign documents backing the entry of Sweden and Finland into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday.
“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,” Biden said in a statement last week after the Senate overwhelmingly approved their membership.
Finland and Sweden’s membership will be the first significant expansion of the alliance since the Soviet Union’s collapse in the 1990s. Their acceptance into the bloc marks a rebuke to Russia amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate approved the move in a rare showing of bipartisan support, voting 95-1 last week in favor of the expansion. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the only senator to vote against the measure, arguing that it would take focus away from China, which he considers America’s primary geopolitical foe.
“We can do more in Europe… devote more resources, more firepower … or do what we need to do to deter Asia and China. We cannot do both,” Hawley said, according to the Associated Press.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed the news, arguing that the move would boost national security.
“Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure. If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck,” McConnell said.
Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO came in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, with membership in the alliance being strongly opposed by the Kremlin.
NATO’s 30 current member-states signed the accession protocol for the two countries last month, clearing the way for the members to formally ratify their membership.
All 30 current NATO members must ratify the decision to allow Finland and Sweden’s membership before they can be protected by Article Five of the NATO Charter, which states an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all members.
Canada, Germany and Italy have already ratified the accession of the two countries.
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