Biden to host leaders of Sweden, Finland amid NATO bid

President Biden will host Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland for a meeting at the White House on Thursday as the two countries bid to join NATO.

The leaders are expected to discuss their applications to join the alliance, European security, and Western support for Ukraine, the White House announced Tuesday.

Both countries have announced intent to join NATO amid Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine, reversing two centuries of military nonalignment.

Finland’s prime minister announced Tuesday that the Finnish parliament voted 188-8 in favor of joining the alliance.

The addition of the two countries to the alliance, one of which borders Russia, has sparked fears of retaliation by the Kremlin which could view NATO’s expansion as a direct threat. 

Russian officials have previously warned of military and political consequences should the two countries join NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin tempered his standpoint on Monday, however, saying his country has “no problems from these states.”

“And so in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries,” Mr. Putin said.

Both countries will require the endorsement of all 30 current NATO members before joining the alliance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday raised concerns publicly over admitting both countries over their support for Kurdish militants, whom Turkey considers to be terrorists. Mr. Erdogan has also raised concerns over both countries imposing military sanctions on Turkey.

“Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” Mr. Erdogan said at a news conference Monday. “We cannot say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey, on joining NATO, which is a security organization.”

Both Nordic countries are moving forward in their efforts to join the alliance despite Turkey’s objections.

“Turkey’s statements have changed very quickly and hardened in recent days. But I am sure that we will resolve the situation with constructive talks,” Mr. Niinisto said Tuesday during a visit to Sweden.

Mr. Niinisto said that Mr. Erdogan signaled his support for Finland joining NATO when the two spoke in early April.

“Now it seems that there are different opinions,” he said “We must continue to discuss.”

• Guy Taylor contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire-service reports.

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