NATO ‘stronger than ever’ – Biden
US President Joe Biden has approved Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO, saying the alliance’s potential new members will make it as strong as it’s ever been, while vowing to challenge Russia and “autocrats” who threaten the “rules based order.”
Speaking moments before signing the US instrument of ratification for the Nordic states’ NATO membership on Tuesday, Biden hailed the US-led military collective, claiming it had kept Americans safe and served as “the basis of our security around the world.”
“Our alliance is closer than ever. It is more united than ever. And when Finland and Sweden bring the number of allies to 32, we’ll be stronger than ever,” the president said, adding that the two countries “have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies” and will “meet every NATO requirement.”
Spurred by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, Finland and Sweden decided to join NATO after decades of neutrality, officially applying for membership back in May. The bloc quickly took up those requests, with Washington and other key member states vowing to approve their bids as soon as possible.
Biden condemned Russia directly in his remarks on Tuesday, claiming President Vladimir Putin had “shattered peace and security in Europe.” He added that Washington’s commitment to NATO is “more important than it has ever been” at a time when “autocrats are challenging the very foundations of a rules based order,” apparently referring to Moscow’s military action.
While more than 20 of NATO’s 30 members have ratified their accession, Sweden and Finland require unanimous consent from the alliance in order to join. Both initially faced staunch resistance from Turkey, but appear to have reached tentative deals to satisfy Ankara’s conditions.
Though Moscow has long aired concerns about the eastward expansion of NATO – Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia – President Putin has stated that Russia “has no problems” with either country, and does not see their membership as an “immediate threat.”