RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE

McConnell: Finland, Sweden ‘important additions’ to NATO

May 15, 2022, 12:21 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 11:00 am
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volo...
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pose for a photo in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Finland and Sweden would be “important additions” to NATO as he led a delegation of GOP senators to the region in a show of support against Russia’s aggression.

McConnell also called on President Joe Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism over its invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters from Stockholm, McConnell said that Finland and Sweden, unlike some members of the Western alliance, would likely be in a position to pay their NATO obligations and would offer significant military capabilities.

“They will be important additions to NATO, if they choose to join,” he said, adding, ”I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join.”

McConnell is a longtime NATO supporter, and his trip to the Nordic nations with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas follows their surprise stop Saturday in Ukraine’s capital to express solidarity in the fight against the Kremlin.

McConnell was in Sweden while leading diplomats from the 30 NATO member states met in Berlin to discuss providing more support to Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join NATO in the face of threats from Russia.

Several hours after Finland’s announcement that it would seek to join NATO, Sweden’s governing party also endorsed becoming an alliance member, a move that could lead to the country’s application within days.

The office of Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, said the American lawmakers will meet with the president to discuss Finland’s NATO membership, the Ukraine war and other issues. McConnell’s office confirmed the visit.

But NATO-member Turkey is “not favorable” toward those two additions, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, complicating the move to bolster the alliance as a deterrent to Russia.

The high-level meetings come as Congress is working to approve $40 billion in military aid to Ukraine, a substantial infusion of support for the region. The measure includes $6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment and training for its forces, plus $4 billion in financing to help Ukraine and NATO allies build up their militaries.

The latest round of assistance would push U.S. support to Ukraine beyond $50 billion, which has raised concerns from some conservative Republicans in the party’s isolationist wing wary of the price of overseas spending. The measure stalled in the Senate over the objection of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., but McConnell is determined to see that it passes in the coming week.

“We’ll get the job done,” McConnell told reporters on a conference call.

McConnell said it is in America’s interest to support Ukraine as he brushed aside criticism from some fellow Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, about the level of spending. It’s a reemergence of the isolationist “America First” approach to foreign policy by a faction of the Republican Party.

McConnell said he told Zelenskyy that there is vast bipartisan support in Congress for helping Ukraine. “This is not a charity we’re involved in here,” McConnell said. “This is to prevent this group of thugs from beginning a march through Europe.”

Asked about a resolution introduced in the Senate designating Russia a state sponsor of terror, McConnell said he supports it. But he also said Biden could declare that on his own, without congressional action.

“I would encourage him to do it,” McConnell told reporters.

McConnell could not say whether the latest aid package would be the last before the November elections. The spending on Ukraine has been a simmering campaign issue for some Republican candidates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who already pushed the aid through the House with bipartisan votes, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” about the Senate Republicans: “They couldn’t pass the Ukraine bill with the senators going over to Ukraine empty-handed with a promise. We passed the bill.”

Zelensky, in his nightly video address Saturday after meeting with the Republicans, said he believed that the senators’ trip showed “the strong connection between the Ukrainian and American people. We discussed various areas of support for our country, including defense and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia.”

It was the second high-profile congressional delegation to stop in Ukraine in as many weeks. Pelosi visited on May 1 with a group of House Democrats and promised Zelenskyy that the United States will “be there for you until the fight is done.”

First lady Jill Biden visited western Ukraine last weekend for a Mother’s Day meeting with Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Zelenska.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Russia invades Ukraine

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Defence Ministry Press Office on Thursday, July 7, 2022, Uk...
JAMEY KEATEN and NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

The head of U.S. intelligence says Russia’s war against Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces may have the upper hand in coming months.
16 hours ago
KIEV, UKRAINE - APRIL 26: People attend a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nu...
DAVID McHUGH, AP Business Writer

EXPLAINER: Can Ukraine pay for war without wrecking economy?

Ukraine has won victories on the battlefield against Russia but faces a looming challenge on the economic front.
2 days ago
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 13: Defence ministers and delegates are seen at the start of the North ...
STEPHEN McGRATH, LORNE COOK and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

NATO renews membership vow to Ukraine, pledges arms and aid

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says war-torn Ukraine will one day become a member of the world’s largest security alliance
6 days ago
US russia arms control...
MATTHEW LEE AP Diplomatic Writer

US says Russia abruptly postpones arms control talks

The Biden administration said Monday that Russia has abruptly and without explanation postponed the scheduled resumption of arms control talks this week.
7 days ago
KHERSON, UKRAINE - NOVEMBER 24: A man looks at smoke rising from a Russian strike in the Kherson sh...
SAM MEDNICK and JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press

Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city

Fleeing shelling, civilians have streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier.
8 days ago
Russia President Vladimir Putin (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Putin decries media ‘lies’ at meeting with soldiers’ mothers

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday hit out at what he said were skewed media portrayals of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine as he met with mothers of Russian soldiers fighting there.
9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
McConnell: Finland, Sweden ‘important additions’ to NATO