Biden says Putin wanted to 'break' NATO, but got the 'NATO-ization of Finland' instead

LONDON — President Biden praised the work of NATO on Thursday and warned Russia that its attempts to break the alliance have only strengthened it.

Speaking at a press conference at the NATO summit in Spain, Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to “weaken” the 30-member organization and that its “resolve” would “fracture” in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

“Putin thought he could break the transatlantic alliance,” the president said. “But he’s getting exactly what he did not want. He wanted the Finlandization of NATO. He got the NATO-ization of Finland. ("Finlandization" is a Cold War term referring to neutrality due to the Soviet Union's influence.)

Putin has claimed that his war in Ukraine, which started four months ago as a “special military operation,” was partly due to NATO’s possible expansion. But in the wake of the invasion, Sweden and Finland applied to join the alliance.

President Biden at a news conference.
President Biden at a news conference following the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday. (Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, NATO formally invited both Nordic countries to join the military alliance after Turkey lifted its objections this week in what Biden called a “historic act.”

Turkey dropped its opposition on Tuesday, with the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating that he had received “full cooperation” from both Sweden and Finland against the Kurdish militant group PKK and its allies. The countries agreed to drop their restrictions on selling munitions to Turkey, as well as help in extraditing suspected militants back. This came after more than three hours of deliberation during a NATO summit in Madrid.

Also during his press conference on Thursday, Biden announced an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine. The president said the package would include air defense systems and artillery.

During his remarks, Biden also disclosed plans to increase military forces in Europe, issuing the stark warning: “We will defend every inch of NATO territory. Every inch of NATO territory.”

NATO’s eastern flank, which includes countries such as Romania, Estonia and Poland, will see a boost in U.S. troops and support. A NATO graphic posted to Twitter shows the number of troops and munitions expected to arrive in Europe.

Biden also announced the commitment from Finland and Sweden to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense with other NATO countries, meeting the alliance’s target.