US President Joe Biden signed documents approving Finland and Sweden’s entrance to NATO on Tuesday, marking the military alliance’s biggest substantial expansion since the 1990s in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden signed the United States’ “instrument of ratification” greeting the two countries, the penultimate step towards the United States’ endorsement.
“It was and is a watershed moment I believe in the alliance and for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States but of the world,” he said of their accession into the post-World War II alliance.
The expansion was approved by an overwhelming 95-1 vote in the United States Senate last week, a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a deeply divided Washington. Both Democratic and Republican senators strongly supported the two Nordic nations’ inclusion, hailing them as essential allies with modern militaries that already collaborated closely with NATO.
The vote stood in stark contrast to some of the rhetoric in Washington during former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration, which promoted a “America First” foreign policy and chastised NATO countries for failing to meet defense expenditure targets.
Sweden and Finland requested for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Both countries have been repeatedly cautioned by Moscow not to join the alliance.
With the two countries’ admission into the alliance, Putin is receiving “exactly what he did not want,” according to Biden.
Last month, NATO’s 30 allies signed the accession procedure for Sweden and Finland, allowing them to join the nuclear-armed alliance once all member countries accept the decision.
Before Finland and Sweden to be covered by Article Five, the defense clause saying that an assault on one ally is an attack on all, the admission must be accepted by the parliaments of all 30 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members.
Although the admission has already been accepted by a few nations, including Canada, Germany, and Italy, ratification might take up to a year.