More than 80 senators call for quick NATO approval for Sweden, Finland

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A group of more than 80 senators sent a letter Tuesday urging the Biden administration to accelerate the process of approving Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), the co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, are leading the bipartisan effort, according to a release from Shaheen’s office. The senators said expanding NATO will send a “clear message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders that democratic countries are united in defending their own values and power.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last week in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. President Biden has said he plans to work with Congress and other NATO members to quickly approve their applications.

Biden met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö Thursday to discuss their applications and said their acceptance will make NATO stronger.

The senators said they are “fully committed” to playing their roles in approving Sweden’s and Finland’s requests for membership and support NATO’s “open-door policy,” which allows additional countries to join the military alliance.

The senators said the United States should pledge to support the two nations if they “face threats or acts of aggression” before formally becoming NATO members.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced a resolution Monday to support Sweden’s and Finland’s decisions to join NATO and encourage other NATO members to quickly complete the approval process.

The NATO Observer Group, which senators revived in 2018 to coordinate Senate interactions with NATO, also released a statement last week endorsing Sweden’s and Finland’s appeals to join the alliance.

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