Senator Mitch McConnell (left) during a meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Finland May 16 – Photo: REUTERS
In a May 16 statement, Republican leader in the US Senate Senator Mitch McConnell said the US Congress would seek to approve Finland’s bid to join NATO before August.
According to McConnell, both Democrats and Republicans support Finland’s admission. Keeping the US aligned with military alliances is the dominant position for Republicans at the moment.
McConnell’s statement made no mention of Sweden, which is expected to officially announce its intention to join NATO late May 16 after a debate in Parliament. Finland had previously announced this intention, triggering protests from Russia.
The leaders of both countries believe that joining NATO will help strengthen national security. According to observers, the abandonment of neutrality by Finland and Sweden was due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview with the Interfax news agency on May 16, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov described the decisions taken by Finland and Sweden as “mistakes with major consequences”.
“The reality is that the security of Finland and Sweden will not be improved,” Ryabkov said, adding that tensions in Europe will increase in the near future.
“Finland and Sweden should not be under the illusion that Russia will simply accept such a scenario,” warned the Russian diplomat.
According to the newspaper Washington Postthe NATO accession of two Scandinavian countries would destroy the balance of power in Europe and could lead to dire scenarios.
The process of ratification by these two countries can take at least 6 months to 1 year and this is a period of potential risks for the security of these countries.
There is little evidence of what Russia will do in response to NATO enlargement in northern Europe. According to Reuters news agency, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close allies has revealed that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in Kaliningrad province if Finland and Sweden join NATO.
The province of Kaliningrad is separate from the main territory of Russia, borders on the Baltic Sea and between Latvia and Poland – two other NATO countries.