On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, welcomes Paivi Nevala, minister counselor of the Finnish Embassy, and Karin Olofsdotter, ambassador of Sweden to the United States. AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite hide caption
switch to caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP
On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, welcomes Paivi Nevala, minister counselor of the Finnish Embassy, and Karin Olofsdotter, ambassador of Sweden to the United States.
Source: J. Scott Applewhite WASHINGTON The expansion of the Western defensive alliance was unanimously endorsed by U.S. senators on Wednesday, who referred to it as a “slam-dunk” for American national security and a day of reckoning for Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe took a significant step forward on Wednesday with the 95-1 vote in favor of the candidacy of two Western European nations that, prior to Russia’s war against Ukraine, had long avoided military alliances.
Chuck Schumer, the leader of the majority party in the Senate, asked the ambassadors of the two countries to watch the vote from the gallery.
President Joe Biden has been a key figure in securing financial and material backing from around the world for Ukraine. He has pushed for the two formerly non-aligned northern European countries to gain admission quickly.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Biden said, “This historic vote sends a critical signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
The president continued, “I look forward to completing the accession documents and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two powerful democracies with very capable military, into the greatest defensive alliance in history.
Currently, 30 of the member countries are needed for approval. In the nearly three months since the two rich Northern European countries applied, the ratification of their candidacies by more than half of the NATO members. It moves at a deliberately brisk pace to convey a message to Russia regarding its six-month conflict with the pro-Western government of Ukraine.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, stated during the Senate discussion prior to the vote that it “sends a warning shot to tyrants throughout the world who assume free democracies are just up for grabs.”
The unprovoked invasion by Russia, she continued, “has altered the way we view global security.”
When he visited Kiev earlier this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed for unanimous consent. Speaking to the Senate, McConnell emphasized the well-funded, modernizing military of Finland and Sweden as well as their previous cooperation with American personnel and weaponry, describing it as a “slam-dunk for national security” of the United States.
WORLD “Their inclusion will strengthen NATO and increase American security. I wish them luck if any senator is trying to find a justifiable reason to vote against it “said McConnell.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri whose views sometimes coincide with those of the most fervent supporters of former President Donald Trump, abstained. Hawley used his time on the Senate floor to disparage European security cooperation, claiming that China, not Russia, is the United States’ main adversary.
“We can take more action in Europe, use more resources and weaponry, or take the necessary steps to discourage Asia and China. Hawley referred to it as a “typical nationalist attitude” and added, “We cannot do both “international relations.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who, like Hawley, may run for president in 2024, refuted his arguments without mentioning a hypothetical Republican opponent.
This includes debunking Hawley’s claim that the U.S. military, the largest in the world, would have additional responsibilities if NATO expanded. Cotton was one of several who cited the two countries’ military prowess, noting Sweden’s navy and air force and Finland’s well-trained ground forces and experience in guarding its hundreds of kilometers of border with Russia.
They immediately become “two of the strongest members of the coalition,” according to Cotton.
The two nations are viewed as net “security suppliers” by U.S. State and Defense officials, enhancing NATO’s defense posture in the Baltics in particular. NATO’s 2 percent GDP defense spending threshold is anticipated to be exceeded by Finland in 2022, and Sweden has agreed to adhere to the target.
In contrast, many of the new members of NATO that were once part of the Soviet Union’s orbit have smaller militaries and economies. The newest member of NATO, North Macedonia, joined in 2020 with a military force of only 8,000 personnel.
Senators frequently cast overwhelming votes when approving NATO candidacies. The North Macedonian one had a score of 91-2. However, in light of Russia’s war, Wednesday’s approval from almost all of the senators present has greater significance in terms of foreign policy.
The Senate would pass the ratification resolution “as quickly as we could,” according to Schumer and McConnell, who are both Democrats from New York, to strengthen the alliance “in light of recent Russian aggression.”
In May, Sweden and Finland submitted applications, abandoning their long-standing policy of military nonalignment. The two nations’ security arrangements underwent a significant change after neighboring Russia declared war on Ukraine in late February. In May, Biden welcomed the leaders of the two nations to the White House and urged them to join, standing side by side with them as a sign of American support.
In the face of Putin’s military invasion, as well as the Russian leader’s broad pronouncements this year criticizing NATO, issuing covert reminders of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, and asserting Russia’s historical claims to territory of many of its neighbors, the U.S. and its European allies have united with newfound partnership.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey and the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday that expanding NATO was the exact opposite of what Putin had in mind when he gave the order for his tanks to invade Ukraine. He added that the West could not allow Russia to “launch invasions of countries.”
The Republican and Democratic votes on Wednesday stood out in the generally sluggish and divided house. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an amendment, which the Senate rejected, to make sure that NATO’s promise to defend its members does not take the place of a formal congressional role in authorizing the use of force. Paul, a steadfast supporter of the U.S. staying out of the majority of foreign military operations, voted “present” to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership application.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, submitted a further amendment that was adopted by the Senate. It stated that all NATO countries must spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on military and that significant equipment, including research and development, should account for 20 percent of defense spending.
Any new member of NATO requires the permission of all other member governments. When Turkey voiced reservations about including Sweden and Finland, accusing them of being lenient toward illegal Turkish Kurdish exile groups, the procedure encountered unanticipated difficulties. The two nations’ membership is still in jeopardy due to Turkey’s reservations.