Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are working together on a resolution that would press the Biden administration to fast-track applications by Sweden and Finland to join NATO before Congress' August recess.
The resolution will get marked up with the Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
“NATO has been the cornerstone of Western defense since World War II, and President Niinistö of Finland and Prime Minister Andersson of Sweden are showing strong leadership in joining the United States and its allies against Putin’s deeply immoral campaign of violence,” Schumer said in a statement Monday.
“As the world’s democracies unite against Putin and his crony oligarchs, Finland and Sweden’s ascension into NATO will be a further rebuke of Putin’s murderous attack on Ukraine.”
McConnell said in the statement that “Finland and Sweden are strong countries with formidable military capabilities that surpass many existing NATO allies.”
Sweden decided last Monday to seek NATO membership a day after the country’s governing Social Democratic Party endorsed a plan for the country to join the trans-Atlantic alliance and Finland’s government announced that it would seek to join NATO.
Moscow has repeatedly warned Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden of repercussions if they pursue NATO membership. But Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to downplay the significance of their move.
Once a regional military power, Sweden has avoided military alliances since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Like Finland, it remained neutral throughout the Cold War, but formed closer relations with NATO after the 1991 Soviet collapse. Sweden no longer sees itself as neutral after joining the European Union in 1995, but has remained nonaligned militarily until now.
After being firmly against NATO membership for decades, public opinion in both countries shifted after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, with record levels of support for joining the alliance. The Swedish and Finnish governments swiftly initiated discussions across political parties about NATO membership and reached out to the U.S., Britain, Germany and other NATO countries for their support.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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