US Senate votes to ratify NATO membership for Finland, Sweden
The US Senate approved Sweden and Finland’s entry to NATO on Wednesday, strongly supporting the expansion of the transatlantic alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the two Nordic countries’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 NATO countries to formally endorse so far, after Italy’s prior approval. on Wednesday and France on Tuesday.
The only opponent is Republican Josh Hawley, who says the US must focus on defending its homeland but Washington should also focus on the challenge from China rather than Europe.
A Republican senator Rand Paul voted “present” instead of approving or opposing the proposal.
Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said this was a signal of Western unity after Moscow launched a war with Ukraine on February 24.
“This is very important and a signal to Russia: they can’t threaten America or Europe,” Schumer said.
“Putin has tried to use his war in Ukraine to divide the West. Instead, today’s vote shows that our alliance is stronger than ever,” he said.
All 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must agree if Finland and Sweden, the alliance’s longtime, non-aligned official partners, are admitted.
According to the NATO list, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey have yet to formally agree to join.
But in reality, only Turkey raised the challenge, demanding certain concessions from Finland and Sweden in favor of their membership.
Ankara has demanded the extradition of dozens of government opponents it deems “terrorists” from both countries in exchange for their support.
Turkey said on July 21 that a special commission would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess whether the two countries were complying with its conditions.
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