The US Senate delivered an exceptionally rare near-unanimous bipartisan approval to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, calling the expansion of the bloc a “slam dunk” for U.S. national security and a day of reckoning for Russia.
The vote was 95 to one.
It means the US Senate overwhelmingly approves on a united front the NATO candidacy of two European countries that, until Russia’s war against Ukraine, had long avoided military alliances.
It marks a massive and crucial step toward the two nordic countries joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and therefore expanding the 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe.
President Joe Biden has been the principal player rallying global economic and material support for Ukraine. He sought quick entry for Finland and Sweden. In order for the two countries to join, all member countries are required to approve. Right now, that list is at 30 countries.
So far, the two candidacies have won ratification from more than half of the Nato member countries in the roughly three months since they applied in back-to-back applications.
Sweden and Finland applied in May, stepping away from each of their longtime stance on military non-alignment. It marked a major shift in security arrangements for the two countries after neighboring Russia launched its war on Ukraine at the end of February. Biden encouraged them to join NATO and welcomed the two countries’ government heads to the White House in May.
U.S. lawmakers say that this sends warning shots to tyrants around the world.
Senators from both sides of the aisle made public statements about the vote, and it showed senators who typically are at staunch odds with each other coming to an agreement on this issue.
Lawmakers said the two nations’ accession will make Nato stronger, and America more secure.