US Senate approves NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, votes 95 to 1 in favour

Finlands Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto L Swedens Foreign Minister Ann Linde R and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (L) Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (R) and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attend a media conference in the NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 5, 2022

Photo : AP

Washington: The US Senate on Wednesday approved the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). A total of 95 US Senators voted in favour of Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the military bloc, while only one Senator voted against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also invited ambassadors of the two nations to the chamber gallery for witnessing the vote. Republican Senator Josh Hawley voted against the move. Notably, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 this year.

All the 30 members of the alliance need to approve the membership applications of the Nordic countries. Last month, NATO’s 30 members signed the accession protocol. At that time, Helsinki and Stockholm were allowed to participate in NATO meetings and had access to its intelligence.

Also Read: Why are Finland and Sweden moving fast to join NATO and where will this lead?

However, Finland and Sweden were not protected by Article Five. It is NATO’s defence clause. According to the Article, an attack on one ally is an attack against all. The accession should be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 NATO members.

last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threat to “freeze” the NATO membership bids of both Sweden and Finland unless the military bloc complies with Ankara’s conditions. At a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, Erdogan called on the two nations to “do their part” in the fight against terrorism. He also accused them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants.

Both Finland and Sweden submitted their application to join NATO in May this year. Finland shared an almost 1,300 km border with Russia. There is increasing fear among many Finns and Swedes after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.