The US Senate on Wednesday ratified the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATOstrongly supporting the expansion of the transatlantic alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate voted 95-1 for the two Nordic countries to join, making the United States the 23rd of 30 NATO countries to formally endorse it so far, after Italy approved it on Wednesday and France on Tuesday.
The only opponent was Republican Josh Hawley, who argued that the US should focus on protecting its homeland.but also that Washington should focus on the challenge from China rather than Europe.
One senator, Republican Rand Paul, voted “present” rather than support or oppose the motion.
Senate Leader Chuck Schumer said it was a sign of Western unity after Moscow will launch a war against Ukraine on February 24.
“This is important substantially and as a signal to Russia: they cannot intimidate the United States 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,” the Senate leader added.
All 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must agree if Finland and Sweden are admitteda, officially non-aligned but long-time deputy alliance partners.
According to a NATO list, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey have yet to formally agree to join.
But in fact, only Turkey has raised a challenge, demanding certain concessions from Finland and Sweden to support their memberships.
Ankara has demanded the extradition of dozens of government opponents whom it calls “terrorists” from both countries in exchange for their support.
Turkey said on July 21 that a special committee would meet with Finnish and Swedish officials. in August to assess whether the two nations are meeting their conditions.
The two Nordic countries jointly requested their entry into NATO on May 18, an admission that the Atlantic Alliance was betting because it was ‘express’ and was ready for the Madrid summit.
The next step will be the negotiations and the signing of the access protocol, signed by the allies in Brussels to send it later to the different capitals. The ratification of these protocols would be the longest phase due to the different systems to guarantee the new partner.
This bureaucratic procedure will take months since each ally has a different validation system, and in many cases it involves a vote in Parliament. This means that the formal entry of Sweden and Finland does not arrive until late 2022 or early 2023something that worries the candidates who want to have security guarantees for this period in the face of threats from Russia.
Once all alliance members and candidates have approved these protocolsThe next step will be to deposit these documents in Washington, where they are guarded by the United States Government.
(With information from AFP)