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Senate backs Finland, Sweden for NATO 95-1, rebuking Russia 

The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution to ratify membership for Sweden and Finland in NATO, a historic vote aimed at strengthening the defense bloc amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Why it matters

Approval from all member nations — currently, 30 — is required. The candidacies of the two prosperous Northern European nations have won ratification from more than half of the NATO member nations in the roughly three months since the two applied. It’s a purposely rapid pace meant to send a message to Russia over its six-month-old war against Ukraine’s West-looking government.

In the meantime, the countries are considered NATO partners and have been participating in military exercises with the U.S. and other NATO nations.

Who voted against it: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

What they’re saying

  • “I think it sends a very strong statement of our support of these countries to join NATO, and our continuing position of leadership in NATO and in the world. When we do this, we lead by example,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman BobMenendez, D-N.Y., said prior to the vote.
  • Hawley said the U.S. should focus on deterring China instead of expanding NATO, which he said would mean committing additional military forces and firepower in Europe over the long run.
  • “This isn’t over until it’s over,” said Kathleen McInnis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Turkey is already starting to throw red cards into the mix.”

What’s next

The document now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk. He must sign the resolution twice before the State Department can affix the U.S. seal to make it official. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also sign the document. 

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