“Together with our allies and partners, we will write the future we want to see, and at a time when Putin’s Russia has shattered peace and security in Europe – when autocrats are challenging the very foundations of an order based on rules – the strength of the transatlantic alliance and America’s commitment to NATO are more important than ever,” Biden said before signing the protocols in the East Room on Tuesday afternoon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has strongly opposed any NATO expansion, calling it an imperialist threat. But analysts say the war in Ukraine has had the unintended consequence of strengthening the alliance amid fears Russia could attack other neighboring countries. Finland shares an 800 mile border with Russia.
“Putin thought he could separate us when it all started,” Biden said. “Instead, he gets exactly what he didn’t want.”
Any European country can join NATO as long as it demonstrates that it can fulfill the obligations of membership such as military and economic contributions. This includes devoting at least 2% of its GDP to national defense and accepting NATO’s collective defense rule, a mechanism that requires members to defend each other in the event of an attack.
Finland and Sweden are set to become NATO’s 31st and 32nd member states. The last NATO enlargement took place in March 2020, when North Macedonia joined the group. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine have also expressed interest in joining.