The US Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reacted during a news briefing at the US Capitol on 12 July 2022. McConnell on Wednesday spoke in support of Finland and Sweden’s bids to join Nato, arguing that the two countries would strengthen the defence alliance. (Alex Wong – AFP/Lehtikuva)

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THE US SENATE on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of welcoming Finland and Sweden into Nato.

The Senate voted 95 for and 1 against for ratifying the accession protocols following a process that went on 90 minutes beyond its intended three-hour duration, representing an increasingly rare moment of unity between Democrats and Republicans.

A two-thirds majority was required for ratifying the accession protocols of Finland and Sweden.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö revealed yesterday evening that he received a call before the vote from Mitch McConnell, the Republican senator of Kentucky and minority leader of the Senate.

“I thanked him for his steadfast support for Finland’s Nato membership. We discussed the ratifications still needed and shared a deep concern on global security,” he commented on Twitter.

McConnell on Wednesday spoke in favour of the membership bids of Finland and Sweden, arguing that the memberships would make the defence alliance stronger. The Nordic countries, he added, have not only defence budgets that meet the requirements imposed by the alliance, but also strong militaries.

“There’s just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” he was quoted saying in his floor speech by The Hill.

“This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”

The Finnish and Swedish accession protocols have now been ratified by more than two-thirds of Nato, with France doing so on Tuesday and Italy on Wednesday. Ratifications are still required from Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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