May 17, 2022
By Jane Brown
The leaders of NATO’s newest applicants are heading to the United States.
U.S. President Joe Biden plans to host the leaders of Sweden and Finland at the White House for a meeting Thursday as the two nations seek to join NATO while Vladimir Putin’s Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.
A statement from the White House says Prime Minister Magdelena Andersson and President Sauli Niinisto will meet with Biden to discuss the two countries’ applications to join the mutual defence alliance, as well as European security broadly.
Leadership in Turkey has expressed reservations about the two countries’ bid to join NATO, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to meet with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the UN tomorrow.
If the two non-aligned Nordic nations become part of the alliance, it would represent an affront to the Russian leader.
Putin has cited NATO’s post-Cold War expansion in eastern Europe, including talk of Ukraine becoming a member, as a threat to Russia.
Meantime, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters left the vast steel plant in the Ukrainian southern port city Mariupol where they mounted a dogged last stand and turned themselves over to Russian hands.
That signals the beginning of the end of a siege that became a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to Moscow’s invasion. Russia on Tuesday called the operation a mass surrender.
The Ukrainians avoided using that word but said the garrison had completed its mission, and that they were working to pull out the fighters that remain.