The US on Tuesday formally welcomed Finland as NATO’s 31st ally, but called on Turkey and Hungary to swiftly approve Sweden’s ascension as well.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership last May following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Their membership was held up by Turkey and then Hungary for different reasons. American and European lobbying efforts helped remove the Turkish veto.
US President Joe Biden praised the Nordic countries for being “strong democracies” with highly capable militaries that “share our values and vision for the world.”
Biden added: “When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was a historic day and took a jab at Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I’m tempted to say this may be the one thing we can thank Mr. Putin for, because he, once again here, has precipitated something he claims to want to prevent,” Blinken said ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Belgium.
The US president said Europe and NATO were more united than ever while vowing to preserve transatlantic security and defending “every inch of NATO territory” together.
Finland became a member of NATO in record time, less than one year.
As for Sweden, Biden said he looked forward to welcoming them into NATO as soon as possible. He encouraged Turkey and Hungary “to conclude their ratification processes without delay.”