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International News May 19, 2022 9:16 PM EST

Biden welcomes Finland, Sweden, to join NATO as Poland vows to defend them against a Russian attack

President Biden reiterated his support for Sweden and Finland's applications to join NATO despite criticism from Turkey.

Biden welcomes Finland, Sweden, to join NATO as Poland vows to defend them against a Russian attack
Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

On Thursday, President Biden reiterated his support for Sweden and Finland's applications to join NATO amid ongoing security risks posed by Russia

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on Wednesday, a decision that was celebrated by President Biden, who met with the leaders of both nations at the White House on Thursday.

"Today there is no question," Biden began, "NATO is relevant, and it is effective, and it is more needed now than ever."

"Both Finland and Sweden are already working in coordination with the United States and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom against Russia's invasion," Biden added.

Biden then praised the Scandinavian nations for their "strong democratic institutions, strong militaries, strong and transparent economies, and strong moral sense of what is right."

"They meet every NATO requirement and then some," he continued, "and having two new NATO members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance, and deepen our security cooperation across the board."  

Finnish president Sauli Niinistö then outlined why his nation has chosen to apply for NATO membership at this point in time.

"Russia's war in Ukraine has changed Europe, and our security environment," he said. "Finland takes the step of NATO membership in order to strengthen not only its own security, but also to strengthen wider transatlantic security."

"Today the situation in Ukraine reminds us of the darkest days of European history," added Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson, "and I must say, during dark times, it is great to be among close friends.

While the vast majority of existing NATO members do consider themselves "close friends" of Sweden and Finland, there is one nation that has explicitly said it will bar them from joining the alliance: Turkey.

"We have told our relevant friends we would say 'no' to Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO," Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, "and we will continue on our path like this."

Gaining the support of Turkey is essential, as NATO's decisions are made via consensus among all members, however convincing Erdogen will not be easy.

As Reuters reports, he has called out both Sweden and Finland for their alleged support of Kurdish militants Turkey considers terrorists.

In his address on Thursday, Biden urged Turkey to change its mind.

"Let me be clear," he said. "New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation. It never has been. NATO's purpose is to defend against aggression."

Though the applications remain pending, both nations will still be protected. As Reuters reports, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has promised that his nation would offer their assistance.

"I want to make it clear," he said, "that in the event of an attack on Sweden or Finland during their accession, Poland will come to their aid."

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