The United States on Wednesday ratified Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession protocols, after the two countries’ historic decision to give up their neutrality because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US Senate approved this resolution in a vote by a very large majority, with elected officials from both parties (95 votes for, 1 against). A two-thirds majority was needed to approve the text.
“The Alliance is stronger than ever”
“This historic vote is an important sign of the United States’ enduring and cross-partisan commitment to NATO, and the will to ensure that our Alliance is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow” , welcomed President Joe Biden in a press release.
His administration ardently supported this ratification, which was supposed to demonstrate the solidity of the Atlantic Alliance in the face of expansionist Russia. In the United States, the Senate alone is empowered to ratify international agreements. Russian President “Vladimir Putin tried to use the war in Ukraine to divide the West. Instead, today’s vote shows that the Alliance is stronger than ever,” said shortly before the votes the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.
This vote comes the day after the ratification of the accession protocols by the French parliament, as well as by Italy on Wednesday. Including the United States, 23 States have already ratified the accession of the two countries out of the thirty necessary, according to the count of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO. All NATO member countries must ratify the accession protocols before they can enter into force and, therefore, Finland and Sweden can benefit from Article 5.
A membership that is not yet acquired
Article 5 of the treaty of the North Atlantic Alliance, founded in 1949 at the start of the Cold War, triggers a common response in the event of an attack against one of the members. During the debate on Wednesday, senators rejected an amendment that attempted to protect the prerogatives of the US Congress to declare war should Article 5 be activated.
NATO membership for Sweden and Finland has not yet been acquired, Turkey threatening to “freeze” the process, accusing the two Nordic countries of benevolence towards the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK ) and its allies that Ankara considers terrorist organizations.
A major shift in European security
Ankara, which had been blocking their entry into the Atlantic Alliance since May, signed a memorandum of understanding with them in June linking their membership to their fight against Kurdish movements and their supporters on their soil. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again threatened to block at the end of July, accusing Sweden in particular of not “taking its part” in the fight against terrorism.
Sweden and Finland, which had so far refrained from joining NATO so as not to incur the wrath of neighboring Russia, presented their candidacies after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Moscow. These were approved at a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June.
These accessions represent a major change in European security and come against the backdrop of a considerable reinforcement of the American presence on the European continent since the Russian invasion.