U.S. President Joe Biden visited Finland, the military alliance’s newest member and a country that borders Russia. While there, he welcomed Finland to NATO and highlighted the alliance’s shared principles.
To attend a summit with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, Biden traveled to Helsinki. He just returned from this week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he claimed that the alliance had become stronger as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland’s decision to join NATO broke with seven decades of military non-alignment and roughly doubled the length of the border NATO shares with Russia.
The country repelled an attempted Soviet invasion during World War Two but lost territory. It maintained accommodating relations with Russia until Putin’s Ukraine invasion.
Ahead of a bilateral meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Biden hailed Finland’s as an “incredible asset” to the NATO military alliance.
“I don’t think NATO has ever been stronger,” he told reporters at the palace, adding later that this week’s summit was a reminder of member nations’ common values and challenges.
“The vision for the world that we all share … is one that’s more free, more secure,” he said, adding opportunities should be open to all.
“Because we know that when other countries do well, particularly those countries that are struggling, we all do better.”
Niinisto said Finland’s NATO membership heralded “a new era in our security”, and applauded Biden for “creating unity” at the Vilnius summit which focused on uniting behind Ukraine.
Biden and the Nordic leaders said in a statement following the talks that they would continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.
Biden also welcomed Sweden’s prospective entry to NATO. Sweden had applied to join NATO alongside Finland, but its bid was held up by Turkey, which says Sweden is doing too little against people Ankara sees as terrorists. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dropped objections to its application this week.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson thanked Biden for his support in the country’s push to join NATO and said there is great potential for closer U.S.-Nordic cooperation and a stronger link in facing challenges, including on issues involving China.
“We’re seeing a total change to the European security structure as a result of Russia’s move and the Nordic countries writ large have moved closer to the West in response to Russia’s aggressive and destabilising actions,” a White House official said earlier.
His visit comes almost exactly five years after former U.S. President Donald Trump struck a conciliatory tone with Putin at talks in Helsinki.
Biden said he looked forward to discussing climate change, artificial intelligence and support for Ukraine with the Finnish leader.