U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday initialled ratification instruments endorsing NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland, an expansion of the Alliance in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The two Nordic countries will become “strong, reliable, highly capable new allies” by joining the US-led military alliance, President Biden said at a signing ceremony in the White House.
The US Senate ratified last week, by a 95-1 majority, the two accession protocols of Finland and Sweden to the Atlantic Alliance.
All NATO member countries must ratify these protocols before the two countries' membership can become effective.
Joe Biden has made the restoration of transatlantic relations, mauled by his predecessor Donald Trump, a priority of his foreign policy. NATO is a “foundation of American security,” he noted on Tuesday. He also praised the fact that Finland and Sweden have “strong democratic institutions” and solid armies that will bolster NATO.
According to a statement from the White House, President Biden telephoned his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Tuesday, congratulating them on being a “step closer” to joining NATO.
To date, 23 member countries have ratified the accession protocols out of the 30 required. The main obstacle is Turkey, which criticises Helsinki and especially Stockholm for their alleged benevolence towards the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation.
By invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin “shattered peace and security in Europe,” said Mr. Biden. “Putin thought he could break us apart (…). Instead, he is getting exactly what he did not want.”