Biden signs measure to expand NATO to include Sweden, Finland

Biden signs measure to expand NATO to include Sweden, Finland

The addition of the two countries must be approved by all 30 current NATO members.

WASHINGTON - President Biden signed a measure on Tuesday that would expand NATO to include Sweden and Finland in an effort to bolster the Western alliance nearly six months after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched his invasion of Ukraine. He said from the White House that it is critical to deter threats before they harm our people, our allies and our interests. It is how we address the threat of aggression, with allies at our side amplifying the capacity to respond effectively. Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies, according to the president. They will meet every NATO requirement and we are confident that it will make our alliance stronger. More than 20 of the 30 current NATO members must approve the addition of the two countries. After Turkey lifted a veto on adding Sweden and Finland to NATO, the expansion gained momentum after it was agreed by the two countries that they would act against terrorism.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey was a significant accomplishment in the Biden administration's diplomatic push to unify the West around Russia's assault on Ukraine. The expansion of NATO has received overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans in a deeply divided Washington. The Senate voted 95 to 1 to give its approval last week, with Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri opposing the move. The House passed a nonbinding resolution last month that supports Finland and Sweden's accession to NATO in a lopsided vote of 394 to 18, but only the Senate has the power to approve treaties. President Sauli Niinisto of Sweden and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden visited the White House in May, and Mr. Biden said on Tuesday he spoke to them on the phone before the signing ceremony.

"When Finland and Sweden bring the number of allies to 32, we will be stronger than ever, because we see all too clearly how NATO remains an indispensable alliance," Biden said. Democrats have argued that if Finland and Sweden were added to NATO, it would reduce the burden on the United States and other allies that are assisting Ukraine. The approval in Washington was a departure from the foreign policy of President Donald J. Trump, who publicly criticized the alliance.