National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday that the U.S. “will not tolerate” any Russian aggression towards Finland and Sweden during their application process to NATO.
“Article 5 only kicks in once all 30 allies have ratified accession protocols and they become full-fledged members of the alliance. But, the United States is prepared to send a very clear message, as are all of our European allies, that we will not tolerate any aggression towards Finland or Sweden during this process,” Sullivan said in response to a reporter’s question during the White House press briefing.
“There are practical measures that we can take along those lines that Secretary Austin will coordinate with his counterparts in both Finland and Sweden,” Sullivan added.
Finland and Sweden formally submitted their applications to join NATO on Wednesday, a historic move for two countries that have previously been unaligned. The process usually takes up to 12 months, but NATO wants to move more quickly to accept the two countries due to possible future aggression from Russia in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to NPR.
Russia has threatened to take “retaliatory steps” against Finland’s application.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to neutralize the threats to its national security that arise from this,” a Russian statement read, according to the BBC.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed objection to the two countries joining, blocking the start of the talks to accept Finland and Sweden shortly after they submitted their applications. (RELATED: Reporter Scorches State Dept. Spokesman As He Blows Off Their Questions On Turkey, NATO)
“We’re confident that at the end of the day Finland and Sweden will have an effective and efficient accession process, that Turkey’s concerns can be addressed. Finland and Sweden are working directly with Turkey to do this, but we’re also talking to the Turks to try to help facilitate,” Sullivan said during the press briefing.