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US Senate ratifies Finland's Nato bid

Following hours of debate, the upper legislative body of the US voted 95 to one to admit Finland and Sweden into the defence alliance.

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the accession of Finland and Sweden into Nato. Image: AOP

The US Senate voted to admit Finland and Sweden into Nato in a vote of 95 to one during a session on Wednesday with one senator voting 'present' and three absent from the vote.

In order for ratification, at least two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators had to vote in favour.

"Welcoming Sweden and Finland into the Nato alliance, will signal the United States' ongoing commitment to peace, stability and democracy in Europe and around the world," said Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey and Chair of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations in his remarks opening the floor debate on Wednesday afternoon.

His voice was joined by a chorus of senators, the majority of which echoed the importance of bolstering the transatlantic alliance by adding Finland and Sweden into the fold given their strategic, economic and military contributions.

The major sentiment on the floor of the US Senate was that Finland and Sweden joining Nato was a natural response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the changed security environment in Europe.

Following hours of debate that included references to the Winter War, the prowess of the Finnish Defence Forces, and Senator Tom Carper regaling the tale of the first Finnish and Swedish settlers coming to New Sweden in what is now his home state of Delaware, the Senate voted resoundingly in favour Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

It was a rare moment of bipartisanship, as Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Nordic countries joining the alliance, with only a few exceptions.

Minuscule opposition

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri was the lone dissenting voice on the matter, which came as a surprise given his vote for North Macedonia to join Nato in 2019.

Siding not with Hawley, but standing neutral was his party compatriot Senator Rand Paul, a historic Nato sceptic who in the end voted 'present', a vote neither for or against Nato expansion.

While Paul had introduced an amendment to the vote that would have added extra Congressional oversight in the case that Article 5 of the Nato treaty was invoked to lead the US to war, the amendment was shot down.

However, an amendment by Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan, another Republican, was adopted that urged all current and future Nato member states to contribute to the alliance by spending at least two percent of their GDP on military spending.

Sullivan and countless other senators pointed out that while Finland already met and exceeded this requirement, it was directed towards current Nato members in order to strengthen the alliance.

Other countries ratify too

The US wasn't the only country to ratify the Nato bids of Finland and Sweden, as Italy and France also put their support behind the Nordic countries this week.

Italy supported the decision in a vote of 202 to 13 in the Italian Senate, while the French National Assembly voted 209 to 46 in favour of admitting the Nordic countries into the alliance.

Despite the rhetoric from a rogue Italian governor saying that Italy needed to halt Finland's bid to join Nato over Wärtsilä moving production from the Italian city of Trieste to Finland, the ratification of Finland's accession was overwhelming.

Now, 23 out of 30 Nato member state legislatures have given Finland and Sweden the green light to join the alliance.

Seven more remain, with the biggest question mark remaining Turkey. Despite agreeing to support Finland and Sweden at the Madrid summit in June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that it will freeze the Nordic countries' bids if Ankara's promises are not met, according to Reuters. (siirryt toiseen palveluun)