Defense

NATO commander nominee says Finland, Sweden fortify alliance’s defenses against Russia

President Biden’s nominee for NATO’s top commander says he looks forward to Finland’s and Sweden’s ascension into the alliance, saying that the countries fortify its defenses against Russia.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli, currently the commander of U.S. Army Europe-Africa, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the Nordic countries would immediately benefit the alliance.

“From a military perspective, each of those militaries brings quite a bit of capability and capacity to the alliance from day one,” he said.

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO this month — a move seen as a major blow to Moscow, which is vehemently opposed to the expansion of the Western security alliance in the region, and launched its war on Ukraine in part to halt Kyiv’s turn to the West.

Cavoli told the Senate panel that Finland’s large army is well-equipped, well-trained and very quickly expansible. In addition, the country is “absolutely expert” in defending its 800-mile border with Russia.

He added that Sweden’s army is smaller than Finland’s, but it is growing and “very capable.” But Sweden’s navy in the Baltic Sea will be of “enormous military significance” to the alliance.

Cavoli added that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would mean that nearly all of the Baltic Sea would be coastline of NATO nations, which would create a “very different geometry to the area.”

The Biden administration has championed the potential new members and invited the leaders of Sweden and Finland to the White House last week; however, the alliance would have to unanimously vote to allow the countries to join.

More than 80 senators, led by Sens. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), have urged the administration to fast-track approval of their applications.

Turkey has emerged as a possible roadblock over its accusations that the countries harbor Kurdish terrorist groups.

Cavoli was nominated in May to the role of supreme allied commander, Europe. Should he be confirmed, he would also be dual-hatted as commander of U.S. European Command.

Tags Biden Christopher Cavoli Finland NATO commander Russia-Ukraine war Sweden

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