U.S. Senate backs Finland and Sweden joining NATO

STORY: In a major rebuke to Russia, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to let Finland and Sweden join NATO - the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s.

“On this vote the Yeas are 95, the Nays are one..."

The Senate easily surpassed the two-thirds majority required in the 100-member chamber to ratify Sweden's and Finland's entry documents.

Senators from both parties strongly endorsed their membership into the U.S.-led alliance.

Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar spoke before the vote.

"Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has changed how we think about the world's security. That's why I strongly support the decision of these two great democracies, Sweden and Finland, to join the most important and defensive alliance in the world: NATO."

Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was the lone vote against the motion.

“Expanding NATO will require more United States forces in Europe, more manpower, more firepower, more resources, more spending, and not just now but over the long haul.''

“Our foreign policy should be about protecting the United States, our freedoms, our people, our way of life. And expanding NATO, I believe, would not to do that.”

Helsinki and Stockholm applied for membership after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Moscow has repeatedly warned both countries against joining the alliance.

Up until now, the two have been able to participate in NATO meetings and have greater access to their intelligence.

But they are not protected by Article Five which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack against all.

Last month, all 30 NATO allies signed the accession protocol.

And once all members ratify the decision, the pair will become the newest members of the nuclear-armed alliance.

As well as be protected under Article Five.

But ratification could take up to a year.

However, it has already been approved by a few countries including Canada, Germany and Italy.