The two previously neutral countries applied for NATO membership following Russian President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. Senate voted 95-1 on Wednesday to accept Finland and Sweden into NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The vote ratified the Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 (Treaty Doc. 117-3) and backed the two countries’ entry in NATO.

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker both supported the move.

“The immediate and long-term interests of the American people are best served by a unified and strong NATO.  Admitting Finland and Sweden, both of which already have a record of participating with NATO, will make the alliance a more formidable force against the aggression and ambitions of Russia, China, and any other adversary,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Senate declarations accompanying this protocol affirm that U.S. national security comes first, while acknowledging the contributions that Finland, Sweden, and other member nations must bring to the table.”

The declarations, among other things, reaffirm that U.S. membership in NATO is a vital national security interest, and that enlarging NATO is strategic given continuing threats to the United States and NATO allies.  They also confirm the willingness of Finland and Sweden to meet NATO membership requirements, including spending a minimum of 2 percent of their GDP on defense, with 20 percent of their defense budget going toward major equipment, including research and development.

Senator Wicker called the vote a pivotal day for the free world.

Wicker with other members of Congress and Swedish Speaker of Parliament Andreas Norlén in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Today is a pivotal day for the free world.  Finland and Sweden will be strong partners in the most successful alliance in human history, enhancing NATO’s ability to deter aggression and strengthen freedom in Europe,” Wicker said.  “After visiting with both countries’ senior leaders this summer, I am convinced that expanding NATO to our Nordic friends will benefit the national interest, and I look forward to deepening our security relationship in the years ahead.”

Wicker led a congressional delegation to Europe in July, making stops in Sweden and Finland to meet with the president and prime minster of both countries, respectively. Finland already spends the NATO-mandated 2 percent of its GDP on defense, while Sweden has upped its defense spending in recent years and is on pace to reach 2 percent of GDP in the next decade.

Finland and Sweden, previously neutral nations, applied for NATO membership following Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February.  Admission to the historic defensive alliance requires unanimous ratification from all 30 current members of NATO.

The White House released this statement from President Joe Biden following the Senate’s vote:

“Today, the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed our close partners Finland and Sweden joining NATO. This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. I thank the members of the Senate – especially Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Senator Menendez and Senator Risch — for their leadership and for quickly advancing the ratification process, the fastest Senate process for a NATO protocol since 1981. Finland and Sweden joining the Alliance will further strengthen NATO’s collective security and deepen the transatlantic partnership.
 
“As I told Prime Minister Andersson and President Niinistö when I hosted them at the White House in May, the United States remains committed to the security of Sweden and Finland. We will continue working to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression.  
 
“I look forward to signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two strong democracies with highly capable militaries, into the greatest defensive alliance in history.”