US, European allies rally behind Finland, Sweden in their bid to join NATO
The US and some European governments say they will support Finland and Sweden joining the NATO military alliance despite Russia's warning of dire consequences.
"We would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. “We would respect any decision they make.”
According to Press TV, the move also got the backing of the US Senate, with a top lawmaker saying the chamber will work to ensure “swift consideration” for Finland and Sweden if they apply to be members of NATO.
Speaking at a hearing on US efforts to back Ukraine in its war with Russia, Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the senate foreign relations committee, said the move would be considered swiftly.
He was echoed by top Republican Senator Jim Risch who said Finland's announcement to join NATO was "a tremendous step forward in the future of transatlantic security."
#Finland’s announcement today marks a tremendous step forward in the future of transatlantic security. The decision to move toward #NATO membership is a serious one, and I extend my commitment to support Finland through this process
— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member (@SenateForeign) May 12, 2022
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said Finland's entry into the bloc would be "smooth and swift" once the country applies.
Stoltenberg’s remarks came hours after Finish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin issued a joint statement calling for Finland to apply for NATO membership "without delay."
"Should Finland decide to apply, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO, and the accession process would be smooth and swift," Stoltenberg said Thursday.
French President Emmanuel Macron in turn told his Finnish counterpart that Paris fully supports the country's choice to join NATO.
French officials have said Finland’s entry into NATO should be done “without delay”.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday also promised "full support" for Finland's bid to join NATO, after the Nordic country's president and the prime minister said they were in favor of joining the military alliance without delay.
Finnish politicians, however, expressed fears that Russia would react by cutting its gas supplies to Finland.
On May 5, the Finnish government said it was prepared for the possibility of its eastern neighbor cutting off gas delivery in response to Finland's refusal to abide by Russian demands for gas payments to be made in roubles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov on Thursday issued a stern warning against Finland's decision to join the US-led military establishment.