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Biden signs US ratification document on NATO membership for Sweden, Finland

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, May 5, 2022, in the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Joe Biden has signed ratification documents endorsing bids by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Biden said the two Nordic countries’ expected entry into the alliance once they receive the backing of all 30 members will be “a watershed moment” for NATO and “for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States but of the world.”

Biden signed the documents — formally called the instrument of ratification — in a ceremony at the White House on August 9.

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They completed accession talks with the alliance just last month.

The U.S. Senate backed the expansion by a vote of 95-1 last week. Both Democrats and Republicans strongly approved the measure, describing Sweden and Finland as important allies whose modern militaries already worked closely with NATO.

Biden said the two countries would become “strong, reliable highly capable new allies” by making the “sacred commitment” to mutual defense in the transatlantic alliance.

Biden handed the pens he used to sign the documents to Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S., Karin Olofsdotter, and Finland’s ambassador to the U.S., Mikko Hautala, who witnessed the signing along with members of Congress and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden said Finland and Sweden both have “strong democratic institutions, strong militaries, and strong and transparent economies” that would now bolster NATO.

He also praised NATO as “the foundation of American security” and said the United States is committed to it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the other hand “shattered peace and security in Europe” by invading Ukraine. “Putin thought he could break us apart…Instead, he is getting exactly what he did not want.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the United States appreciates the swift action of the NATO allies that have already ratified the accession protocols “and encourages all to complete the process soon.”

As of last week seven member countries — the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey — had yet to formally agree to the entry of the two countries. Only Turkey has formally raised a challenge, demanding certain concessions from Finland and Sweden to back their memberships.

Blinken also said the commitment among NATO members to Article 5 of the organization’s founding treaty remains “ironclad.”

Article 5 says NATO members must consider an attack on one member of the alliance as an attack on all, committing each member to defend all others in what NATO calls a spirit of solidarity within the alliance.

“Allies are united in their shared mission to defend the Euro-Atlantic community, deter aggression, project stability, and uphold NATO’s values of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law,” Blinken said. “We also remain firmly committed to NATO’s Open Door policy and to further strengthening our bilateral defense and security cooperation.”

Russia cited Ukraine’s ambitions to join NATO as a key reason for launching the war in February. Putin said in May that, while Russia does not see Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO as a threat, deployment of military infrastructure in the countries may trigger a response from Moscow.