Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday when the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the measure to give U.S. support to their entry, paving the way for a floor vote in the chamber.
The measure passed by voice vote, according to The Hill.
The full Senate will next need to vote on the matter for the nations to gain formal U.S. approval to join.
“Today’s vote is further proof that the answer to aggression is not isolation, but deeper engagement with likeminded democracies,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., per The Hill.
Ranking member Jim Risch, R-Idaho, celebrated the vote and encourage the whole Senate to support the measure, saying “Now, I hope the Senate will move swiftly to pass the resolution of ratification so the United States can do its part to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO as soon as possible.”
The two Northern European nations, though traditionally neutral, submitted their applications to join the alliance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in February. NATO leaders vowed to fast track their applications while Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan declared Turkey would oppose their entry.
Turkey ultimately relented, leaving Finland and Sweden with no NATO members opposing their entry. Joining the bloc requires unanimity among the countries already in the alliance.
Moscow, meanwhile, has responded with bellicose threats, even threatening nuclear action. Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev declared that, should Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia would station “hypersonics and ships with nuclear weapons literally at arm’s length.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is ongoing with Moscovite forces continuing to advance through both Donbass and southern Ukraine. Forces loyal to Kyiv evacuated from Luhansk Oblast in late June, leaving only fragments of Donetsk Oblast out of Russian hands.
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