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Senator reveals when US could approve NATO bids — Analysis

Washington intends to decide on Sweden and Finland’s applications “as rapidly as possible,” Republican minority leader vows

Sweden and Finland’s applications to become members of the US-led NATO military bloc could be ratified by Washington by the summer, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has said during his tour of the two Nordic nations.

McConnell and a group of fellow Republican lawmakers Susan Collins, John Barrasso and John Cornyn landed in Northern Europe on Sunday – the day when Stockholm and Helsinki officially announced that they’ll be looking to join NATO.

Following talks with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm, Senator McConnell insisted that the US was hoping to approve Sweden’s application “before August.”

He said that other NATO nations could also ratify the treaty faster than American legislators.

Each member state must reach consensus before a country is included in the alliance. At the moment, the bloc consists of 28 European countries and two US states.

On Monday, the Republican party delegation traveled to neighboring Finland where McConnel had a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, making similar promises that he made in Sweden.

Following the talks, Senator Thaddeus Smith pointed out: “the goal in the US will be to approve that [Finland’s membership of NATO] as rapidly as possible.”

Press asked for more detail, he replied that he was happy to clarify. “we hope to do it before the August recess, when Congress typically goes out of session, obviously that would be well before the fall election.”

It is strong “bipartisan support”McConnel suggested that US lawmakers would vote for Finnish membership to NATO. “will be very significant, not unanimous.”

Finns & Swedes won’t benefit from NATO – think-tank head

Collins also welcomed Stockholm’s and Helsinki’s aspirations to join NATO, saying that those countries would significantly strengthen the bloc through their capable militaries, advanced technologies, and knowledge of Russia.

Sweden and Finland stayed out of the US-led bloc during the Cold War, but their governments now claim that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has made them rethink their stance.

Moscow warned against the inclusion of two Nordic countries into NATO as it would lead to tensions rising in the region. It pledged to counteract any such actions.

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