McConnell Co-Hosts Finnish and Swedish Leaders in the Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding NATO:

“Last weekend, I was honored to meet with the leaders of Sweden and Finland in their capitals and discuss their pursuit of membership in NATO.

“Senators Collins, Cornyn, Barrasso and I visited Stockholm and Helsinki just as their elected governments were preparing to take the historic step of applying for NATO membership.

“It will be a further honor to co-host our friends President Niinistö and Prime Minister Andersson here in the Capitol later today. 

“For 73 years, NATO’s collective strength has preserved peace in Europe and security for the U.S. and Canada.

“Even from outside NATO’s membership roster, Sweden and Finland have long been two of our most capable and reliable partners. Each has invested seriously in the sort of modern weapons systems that can operate seamlessly alongside our own.

“While clearly part of the West, these countries have until now preferred a non-aligned posture.

“But Putin’s aggression has changed everything. It is crystal clear which alliance supports basic international principles like sovereignty, stability, and human rights, and which wannabe empires do not.

“Europe is rightly recognizing that even if Putin is stopped in Ukraine, he will remain dangerous. He will learn lessons and adapt. More importantly, President Xi will learn lessons, as well.

“All our allies should take a hard look at their military requirements and invest in modernization.

“The accession of Sweden and Finland would be a strong step in that direction. Finland recently agreed to buy 64 F-35 fighter planes. They already commit 2% of their GDP to defense and Sweden is on pace to reach that target soon.

“These nations are setting an example which current treaty allies would do well to follow.

“I’ll be proud to continue amplifying their case for accession however I can, beginning with the meeting the Democratic Leader and I will host later today.”