1 of 6 | Officials attend a flag-raising ceremony after Finland's accession to NATO at the organization's headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday. Photo by NATO/UPI | License Photo
April 4 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden Tuesday, welcomed the news Finland officially became a member of NATO, enlarging the European military alliance to 31 countries while drawing threats from Russia.
Finland's 832-mile border with Russia brings the defensive military bloc to Russia's front doorstep like never before. Finland and Sweden applied for admission into NATO after Moscow ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which is now in its 13th month.
"Finland has today become a member of the defense alliance NATO," Finland's President Finland's Sauli Niinisto said on Twitter. "The era of military non-alignment in our history has come to an end. A new era begins.
"Membership of the alliance provides security for Finland. Finland, on the other hand, provides security for the alliance. Finland, committed to the security of all NATO member states, will be a reliable ally that strengthens regional stability."
Biden applauded the Nordic country's membership, while also expressing hope Sweden would eventually join the military alliance.
"Today, I am proud to welcome Finland as NATO's 31st Ally," Biden said in a statement.
" Today, we are more united than ever. And together-strengthened by our newest Ally Finland-we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face."
In celebrating Finland's arrival as part of NATO, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there will be no NATO troops on Finland's soil without that country's approval, but the country will take part in military exercises.
"What we have in many countries is that we have exercises, we have a naval and an air presence and so on but we don't have permanent bases," Stoltenberg said. "This has not been an issue so far in our discussions with Finland.
"The reality is that this is a result of President Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine. And, of course, Finland also has a history that tells them about the brutality that war can inflict on the country like we now see in Ukraine and like Finland during the Winter War."
Biden also touched on Russia in his remarks Tuesday.
"In May 2022, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership. Both countries are strong democracies with highly capable militaries, who share our values and vision for the world," Biden said in a statement.
"Less than a year later, we are welcoming Finland as a member-the fastest ratification process in NATO's modern history. I look forward to welcoming Sweden as a NATO member as soon as possible, and encourage Turkiye and Hungary to conclude their ratification processes without delay."
NATO was formed after World War II in 1949 with the United States, Canada and 10 Western European countries as security against the Soviet Union. When the USSR collapsed in 1991, other countries quickly joined, more than doubling the size of NATO.
Russia has long complained that NATO's expansion amounted to a threat against it. Moscow spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Finland's decision to join was a "violation of our security and our national interests."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted the expansion of NATO which he had sought to prevent.
U.S. President Joe Biden said he was "proud to welcome" Finland as NATO's newest member and hopes to add Sweden in the future. Sweden applied for membership along with Finland but NATO member Turkey continues to voice opposition to their admission.
"Both countries are strong democracies with highly capable militaries, who share our values and vision for the world," Biden said in a statement. "When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO.
"He was wrong. Today, we are more united than ever. And together -- strengthened by our newest ally Finland -- will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face."