Jun 17 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), co-chairs of the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group, announced two additional stops on their bipartisan delegation to the NATO summit in Spain later this month. The Senators will travel to Finland and Sweden ahead of the NATO summit to reaffirm U.S. support for their historic application process to join the transatlantic Alliance.

Senators who plan to join Tillis and Shaheen’s bipartisan delegation include: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Joni Ernst (R-IA). The Senators will represent the U.S. Senate in meetings with NATO allies and aspirant countries to underscore U.S. support for NATO.

“Sweden and Finland are both vital to the strength ofNATO’s military border and the deterrence of future Russian aggression, and their accession to the NATO alliance will be a historic expansion,” said Senator Tillis. “Senator Shaheen and I unequivocally support their intent to join, and we look forward to visiting both nations to bolster support before returning home to lead the Senate’s ratification of their accession.”

“Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine unleashed a campaign of unspeakable violence on civilian populations, and his intention to continue this war and expand his scope demands a powerful condemnation from the international community. Expanding the transatlantic alliance to include Finland and Sweden sends a clear message to Putin that the global community will not allow him veto power over the membership of NATO,” said Senator Shaheen. “As our delegation prepares to travel to the NATO summit at the end of the month, we believe it is important to reaffirm the robust support in the United States – across party lines – for a stronger, more united NATO in the face of Putin’s belligerence. We look forward to our meetings in Helsinki and Stockholm, and now with increased bipartisan participation in our group, encourage lawmakers in the U.S. to support Finland and Sweden’s swift accession into the Alliance.”

As co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, Tillis and Shaheen recently led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in a joint statement of support and a letter to President Bidencalling for Finland’s and Sweden’s swift accession to NATO in response to the respective nations announcing their intent to join the transatlantic Alliance. 

The Senate NATO Observer Group, re-established by Tillis and Shaheen in 2018, has an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address non-conventional warfare. In February, Tillis and Shaheen issued a joint bipartisan statement marking the fourth anniversary of the Senate NATO Observer Group as well as its expansion to include Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Barrasso (R-WY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Angus King (I-ME), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN).