US Senate backs Finland and Sweden's joining Nato
The US Senate approved on Wednesday Finland and Sweden's accession to Nato, the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate voted 95 to 1 to support ratification of accession documents, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority of 67 votes required to support ratification of the two countries' accession documents.
Sweden and Finland applied for Nato membership in response to the Feb. 24 invasion. Russia has repeatedly warned both countries against joining the alliance.
Nato's 30 allies signed the accession protocol last month, allowing them to join the US-led nuclear-armed alliance once its members ratify the decision.
At that point, Helsinki and Stockholm were able to participate in Nato meetings and have greater access to intelligence, but were not protected by Article Five, the Nato defence clause stating that an attack on one ally is an attack against all.
The accession must be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the defence clause.
Ratification could take up to a year, although it has already been approved by a few countries, including Canada, Germany and Italy.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley was the lone no vote. Republican Senator Rand Paul voted present.