President Biden on Tuesday signed documents endorsing Sweden and Finland joining NATO, the final step needed for formal US approval of the two Nordic nations joining the military alliance.
Since Sweden and Finland joining NATO makes them treaty partners of the US, their memberships needed the approval of the US Senate, where it was overwhelmingly approved in a vote of 95-1, demonstrating the bipartisan support for expanding NATO.
Biden signed the “instrument of ratification” for the two nations and celebrated the expansion of NATO in comments at the White House. He said that Sweden and Finland were making a “sacred commitment that an attack against one is an attack against all,” which is outlined by Article V of the NATO treaty.
Finland shares an over 800-mile border with Russia, and its ascension into NATO will more than double the alliance’s territory that borders Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he doesn’t view Sweden and Finland joining the alliance as a threat but made clear he will respond to the expansion of NATO military infrastructure.
Sweden and Finland’s membership bids need to be approved by all 30 NATO countries. The only country that has signaled it could block them from joining is Turkey, which wants the Nordic nations to fulfill the terms of a memorandum signed during the recent NATO summit in Madrid.
Turkey initially blocked Sweden and Finland’s membership process over their alleged support for the Kurdish militant group PKK. Under the memorandum, the two Nordic nations agreed to respond to Turkey’s extradition request for suspected PKK members and other alleged “terrorists.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the Turkish parliament could block Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids if they don’t comply.