The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) motioned to add Sweden and Finland to the alliance. The motion drew ire from Beijing and Russia, as China claimed the motion was “a malicious attack” against the PRC.
U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the alliance on June 29, expressing the West’s unity against potential aggression.
“Article Five is sacrosanct. We mean it when we say ‘an attack against one is an attack against all,’ every inch. And so, at this Summit, the full Alliance is going to welcome Finland and Sweden,” said Biden, referring to NATO Article Five’s collective defense pledge.
“An historic application for membership and their decision to move away from neutrality—tradition of neutrality—to join the NATO Alliance,” Biden continued. This is going to make us stronger and more secure, and NATO stronger.”
Biden reinforced U.S. support of NATO operations, announcing that the U.S. would operate in Spain to increase the presence of naval destroyers. He pledges that the U.S. will increase its power presence in Europe through key supportive roles.
“In Poland, we’re going to establish a permanent headquarters for the U.S. Fifth Army Corps and strengthening US-NATO interoperability across the entire eastern flank. We’re going to maintain an additional rotational brigade, which is 3000 fighters and another 2000 personnel, a combat team here in Europe, headquartered in Romania,” said Biden, adding that rotational deployment in the Baltic states will be enhanced.
Sweden and Finland’s decision, the BBC writes, is a “monumental shift” from their status as neutral nations since World War 2.
The motion received generally positive response from Western commentators, who called the motion “the opposite of what Putin wanted.” This “big, bold move,” writes Fox News commentator Rebecca Grant “should” make the alliance better able to fend off Russian threats. The former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, told Fox News that Putin’s brutality in Ukraine has “unified Europe.”
As the West lauded this decision, Beijing and Moscow amped up rhetoric. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued “new threats” to Sweden and Finland following the move, The Guardian reports.
Putin reportedly pledged to “respond symmetrically” to any military deployments by NATO Allied forces. Russia’s foreign ministry accused NATO of attempting to “destabilize Russian society.”
Beijing also decried the NATO movement as a “malicious attack” on Chinese society. As NATO declared China its “top threat,” China called out the alliance for “ideological prejudices.”
“NATO should stop drawing ideological lines, stoking political confrontation, or seeking to start a new Cold War. It should discard the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset and stop making enemies. NATO has already disrupted Europe. It should not seek to destabilize Asia and the world,” said Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign affairs ministry spokesperson, in a public address on the same day.
Beijing claimed that the United States “started and continually fuels” the Ukraine crisis, and called out the United States for its so-called “disputable role” in stirring up current foreign relations.
The Chinese state called to “keep vigilance and firmly reject” NATO’s advances.