Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 31, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, today I rise to highlight the need to strengthen our alliances as bad actors around the world continue to threaten peace and global stability.

In August, my Senate colleagues and I took a critical step to bolster our defense by ratifying Finland and Sweden as NATO members. This was the right action to take. It is time for all remaining NATO member countries to follow this example and approve expanding our Transatlantic Alliance by adding two very valuable and reliable partners.

In just a few short weeks, we will be marking a grim milestone of the 1-year anniversary of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Russia's brutal actions in Ukraine, coupled with its increasingly escalatory rhetoric and continued aggression, have shown us and our allies that we must strengthen our collective ability to maintain global stability. Given their proximity to Russia, Finland and Sweden are investing in their capabilities to prevent a similar attack.

The Finns have demonstrated their willingness to enhance NATO's military strength by significantly increasing military spending above NATO's requirements, participating in joint military training exercises, and strengthening its air power with upgrades to an F-35 fleet under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Finland has been one of NATO's most active partners and a strong contributor to NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The Finns have also delivered crucial support to Ukraine by providing hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid in addition to providing critical humanitarian assistance.

Finland's large, well-trained ground force and increasingly capable air force are interoperable with NATO. The Finns also have extensive experience in monitoring Russian activities along their 833-mile shared border, and its addition would make defending the Baltic States so much easier.

Earlier this month, I visited Finland and met with defense leaders who reaffirmed their commitment to bilateral cooperation and the value they would bring to NATO. As a member of NATO, I have no doubt Finland would be a net contributor of security, not a taker.

I strongly urge remaining members to join the U.S. and approve Finland's and Sweden's accessions to NATO to confront evolving security challenges and the ongoing threat posed by Russia's aggression against Ukraine.