‘A slam-dunk’: Senate overwhelmingly backs Finland and Sweden for NATO, rebuking Russia

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Lisa Mascaro | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators delivered overwhelming bipartisan approval to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden Wednesday, calling expansion of the Western defensive bloc a “slam-dunk” for U.S. national security and a day of reckoning for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Wednesday’s 95-1 vote — for the candidacy of two Western European nations that, until Russia’s war against Ukraine, had long avoided military alliances — took a crucial step toward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited ambassadors of the two nations to the chamber gallery to witness the vote.

President Joe Biden, who has been the principal player rallying global economic and material support for Ukraine, has sought quick entry for the two previously non-militarily aligned northern European nations.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“I look forward to signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two strong democracies with highly capable militaries, into the greatest defensive alliance in history,” the president added.

Approval from all member nations — currently, 30 — is required. The candidacies of the two prosperous northern European nations have won ratification from more than half of the NATO member nations in the roughly three months since the two applied. It’s a purposely rapid pace meant to send a message to Russia over its 6-month-old war against Ukraine’s West-looking government.

“It sends a warning shot to tyrants around the world who believe free democracies are just up for grabs,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in the …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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