Newsman: President Joe Biden on Thursday welcomed the leaders of Sweden and Finland to the White House, as he hailed the applications of the once-neutral countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Today I’m proud to welcome and offer the strong support in the United States for the applications of two great democracies, and two close, highly capable partners to join the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world,” Biden said after escorting his fellow leaders to the Rose Garden.
“They meet every NATO requirement and then some,” he said, and “having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance.”
United States President Biden greeted Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at the White House with handshakes and laughter. They met for trilateral conversations on the NATO mutual defense pact as well as broader European security concerns.
His administration has professed optimism for their applications to join the alliance, which would mark a significant embarrassment to Russia, despite continued opposition from Turkey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that the alliance stop expanding toward Russia’s borders. Several NATO allies, led by the United States and Britain, have signaled that they stand ready to provide security support to Finland and Sweden should the Kremlin try to provoke or destabilize them during the time it takes to become full members.
While neutral throughout the Cold War, Finland and Sweden now cooperate closely with NATO. The countries will only benefit from NATO’s Article 5 security guarantee — the part of the alliance’s founding treaty that pledges that any attack on one member would be considered an attack on them all — once the membership ratification process is concluded.