Home U.S. Senate approves addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO

U.S. Senate approves addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO

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The U.S. Senate voted 95-1 in favor of adding Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday.

The two countries have a history of not aligning with other countries during military conflicts, but applied for membership to NATO in May after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Finland shares a border with Russia, and Sweden on the other side of Finland.

“The NATO alliance has formed the foundation of the peace in Europe since the end of the second World War,” Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a press release in response to the vote. “With Vladimir Putin’s brazen and illegal invasion of Ukraine, strengthening NATO is more important than ever and today’s vote in the Senate sends a strong message that democracies across the globe will continue to stand up to Russian aggression.”

Warner led a bipartisan congressional delegation from the committee in June on official visits to Finland and Turkey, and met with intelligence and security officials to discuss Finland’s request to join NATO. Afterward, according to the press release, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped Turkey’s public opposition to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

“Three-quarters of NATO allies have now ratified Finland and Sweden’s applications, and it is essential that all remaining countries do so expeditiously to ensure that Finland and Sweden become full NATO members as soon as possible,” Warner said in the press release.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that New Jersey’s Sen. Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the West could not allow Russia to “launch invasions in countries.”

“Enlarging NATO is exactly the opposite of what Putin envisioned when he ordered his tanks to invade Ukraine,” Menendez said, according to the AP.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.