August 03, 2022
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, spoke on the Senate floor ahead of his vote in favor of the accession of Sweden and Finland into NATO. Blunt recently traveled to Sweden and Finland as part of a congressional delegation trip to Europe. In May, Blunt joined with 81 senators to call on the Biden administration to expedite Sweden’s and Finland’s applications for NATO membership.
Following Are Blunt’s Remarks:
“Mr. President, I want to join my colleagues in my appreciation for the expansion of NATO.
“As others have said, the greatest alliance in, maybe in history—certainly in the last 200 years. And an alliance that has served great benefits, and now is growing.
“You know, NATO has been there since 1949. The two countries that we're going to be voting to admit today have resisted since 1949 being part of NATO. But, with the recent actions, they've decided, 'you now have to choose a side.'
“Now, they are not countries that have been on the sidelines, just hoping nothing would happen. They are countries that have significant defense capacities, significant military capabilities.
“There'll be net-security contributors to NATO. They bring to the alliance these advanced capabilities.
“They bring a neighborhood understanding of Russia that is greater than maybe almost any other country—particularly, Finland with, as [has] been mentioned, that 800-plus mile border that will double the NATO border with Russia.
“They've been defending that border since World War II, and the Russians understand their capacity to defend it.
“They, frankly, bring good real estate and good location. The Baltic—I wish I had a map here on the floor with me, but I don't have—the Baltic really becomes a NATO sea, and that's an important thing.
“Norway, already in NATO, Sweden, joining NATO, Finland, joining NATO, right across from the three Baltic countries that are much more in need of assistance than these two countries that are joining an alliance that will give them that assistance.
“It's an incredible day for NATO, the Baltic Sea, the Arctic. I've heard more, Mr. President, on this floor and in this country about the Arctic in the last five years than I think we've talked about in the previous 25 years.
“The Arctic basically becomes NATO territory with the sole exception of Russia. The United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland become the countries that are bound not only in the neighborhood to the Arctic, but also in a supportive alliance.
“You know, we've been hearing about how China wants to become an Arctic power. I think the change in NATO makes it incredibly harder for China to become an Arctic power or for Russia to become an Arctic abuser. And we're seeing that happen right here.
“Again, great capability. The Swedes have an Air Force, a Navy. They have the best cyber offensive and defensive capability in Europe, that large industrial base.
“Finland just agreed to buy 64 F-35s to replace their F-18s. Both countries have been working with us in military exercises for years. They are virtually immediately interoperable.
“They bring capacity to the NATO alliance that it doesn't have without them. I'm grateful that they're joining.
“Finland already at the 2% goal of their commitment to their own national defense. Sweden will be there by 2028.
“Senator Durbin—who's here on the floor with me—and I met with both of these countries recently. And they are absolutely committed that this is the moment when the NATO alliance takes on new meaning, not only to their two countries, but I think to—and not only Western Europe, but, frankly, to the world.
“This is an alliance that stands for shared values. That stands for border integrity. That stands for being sure that those things go into the future.
“I urge all of my colleagues to vote for this today. I'm glad we're able to be among the first.
“We were hoping we'd be the first country to approve the admission into NATO of these two countries. But, we'll be among the first.
“I think it sends a signal to the world, and, hopefully, to all Americans, that not only is NATO important, but it will be stronger with Sweden and Finland than it has ever been. And I look forward to the opportunity to cast this vote today.”