Durbin: I Support The Succession Of Sweden And Finland To NATO

On Senate floor, Durbin urges colleagues to pass supplemental aid package to help Ukraine and prevent widening of Putin’s war; notes Lithuania’s leadership and defense of democracy

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, spoke on the Senate floor in support of Sweden and Finland’s intention to apply for rapid NATO membership. Yesterday, Durbin met with members of the Lithuanian Members of Parliament to discuss Russia’s continued war in Ukraine, efforts to bolster security across Europe, and Sweden and Finland’s interest in joining NATO. Durbin, Co-Chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, praised the Baltics including Lithuania for their partnership in upholding democracy, including those in neighboring Belarus aspiring for freedom from their own dictator and Russia. 

He also called on the Senate to immediately pass the $40 billion aid package to assist Ukraine following Russian’s unjustified and unprovoked war.

“I saw Lithuania in its darkest days as part of the Soviet Union, and I watched their heroic struggle against the odds to win independence. I’ve been there to see their free government…and to watch this amazing little country grow into a powerhouse, not just economically and culturally but spiritually. I say that because I believe that Lithuania has stepped up to the international challenge. It was my honor to work to bring NATO alliance status to the Baltics, and certainly to Lithuania,” Durbin said.

Durbin declared his support for Finland and Sweden’s intention to join NATO, which he will discuss today in the Senate with the leaders of Sweden and Finland and at the NATO Summit in Madrid next month. He also highlighted Ukraine’s perseverance and resilience.

“I support the succession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. I hope that is agreed to at the NATO summit in just a few weeks. I believe that will help the Baltics, to have that solid neighbor in Finland as part of the NATO alliance,” Durbin continued. “It is interesting to note that what has happened since the invasion of Ukraine is exactly the opposite of what Vladimir Putin expected. He thought Ukraine would be a pushover, it is far from that. The courage and bravery and resilience of those Ukrainian people have fought back the mighty Russian military machine.”

Durbin concluded his speech by urging his colleagues to pass the Ukraine supplemental package. The House of Representatives passed the aid package last week.

“And here in the Senate we have another immediate need as well—to pass this supplemental funding package for Ukraine…This bill should not be delayed by the Senate any further.  I urge my Republican colleagues to join us in passing it this afternoon,” Durbin concluded.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday advanced a bipartisan resolution introduced by Durbin and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations with the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The resolution also reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) amid increasing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

Durbin and Grassley previously introduced the Baltic Defense and Deterrence Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to effectively codify the Baltic Security Initiative effort and create a complementary initiative at the U.S. Department of State.  Jointly, these two efforts will enhance and strengthen U.S. security and economic cooperation with the Baltics amid Russia’s continued aggression toward the Baltics and heightened tensions with China.  Durbin and Grassley also introduced bipartisan legislation to backfill defense articles provided to Ukraine during the current war by NATO countries such as the Baltics in order to fortify NATO’s eastern flank.  

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.