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Biden seeks swift effort to bring Finland and Sweden into NATO

Under an agreement with the Soviet Union, Finland stayed out of the alliance established to contain Russia after World War II. It remained independent in the post-Soviet era even after joining the European Union and growing closer to the West. So far, Sweden has kept more than 200 years of neutrality.

But that posture was quickly abandoned following Putin’s decision in February to invade Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. Both Finland and Sweden suddenly realized that the Russian threat had changed and that standing out of the great power conflict was now a huge risk.

The pace of reversal was so rapid that there was almost no debate after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when even some of Washington’s most experienced Cold War diplomats warned that Russia The more besieged it feels, the more likely it will eventually be attacked, especially if efforts to integrate the country with the West fail.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sullivan said that Mr. Biden had asked his national security officials if they supported adding Finland and Sweden to the alliance and that they had “strongly supported” the move. this in a unanimous manner.

The ceremony at the Rose Garden was intentionally reminiscent of a state visit, complete with the participation of a military band. Mr. Biden described the move to bring Finland and Sweden into the alliance as almost a formality, noting that both countries have contributed forces to the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq – commitments NATO’s main force for the past 20 years – and they’re very powerful. democracies “meet every requirement of NATO and then some”.

Mr. Biden said that the two countries will add more firepower to the alliance.

Finland has a sophisticated military that runs sophisticated operations to monitor Russian activity in the Nordic waters and spends heavily on modern equipment. Sweden is a tougher case: It has dismantled some of its military might and, as Ms. Andersson admits, will have to reorient its budget to spend 2% of its gross domestic product on it. defense and goals of NATO members.

But for the United States, the main benefit of the Nordic countries joining the alliance is the message sent to Mr. Putin. In December, the Russian President asked the United States and NATO to sign a treaty to withdraw forces from the countries of the former Soviet Union and limit training activities and weapons placement.

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