President Joe Biden signs ratification documents in the East Room of the White House to approve Finland and Sweden's NATO membership as Vice President Kamala Harris, Sweden's Ambassador to the United States Karin Olofsdotter and Finland's Ambassador to the United States Mikko Hautala look on. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 9 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden signed ratification documents Tuesday to move Sweden and Finland one step closer to joining NATO, claiming the world's most powerful military alliance "will be stronger than ever."
Biden spoke with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, who both visited the White House earlier this year, before signing the accession protocols in the East Room.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Sweden's Ambassador to the United States Karin Olofsdotter and Finland's Ambassador Mikko Hautala witnessed the signing.
"Today we take another important step toward bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO," Biden said in remarks before the signing.
"Two proud and independent countries, each with a long tradition of nonalignment, are exercising their sovereign right to make their own decisions about their own security and responding to the will of their citizens, following the democratic processes, are choosing to join NATO," Biden said.
"Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong military, and strong and transparent economics," Biden said. "They will meet every NATO requirement, we are confident of that and we will make our alliance stronger and make American people safer in the process."
"Putin thought he could break us apart when this all started," Biden added. "He believed he could break us apart, weaken our resolve. Instead he has been getting exactly what he did not want."
With Biden's signature, the United States became the 23rd out of 30 members to approve Sweden and Finland's admission into NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.
"I urge the remaining allies to complete their own ratification process as quickly as possible," Biden said. "It is critical now to deter threats before they harm our people or allies and interests."
Finland and Sweden began the formal process of applying to NATO in May prompted by Russia's war in Ukraine.
"It was and is a watershed moment in the alliance and for the greater security and stability not only of Europe and the United States, but the world," Biden said.
Last week, the Senate voted 95-1 to approve the resolution with every Democrat and most Republicans voting in favor of ratifying the protocols of accession that Finland and Sweden signed last month.
The House also overwhelmingly approved legislation last month supporting both Nordic countries' efforts to join NATO.
"Today we see all too clearly that NATO remains an indispensable reliance for the world of today and the world of tomorrow," Biden said.
"Our alliance is closer than ever," he said. "It is more united than ever and when Finland and Sweden bring the number of allies to 32, we will be stronger than ever."