US President Joe Biden held talks with Nordic leaders at Finland's presidential palace on Thursday, visiting NATO's newest member directly after knocking Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit a day earlier.
Biden traveled to Finland, which shares a border with Russia, straight from this week's NATO talks in Vilnius, Lithuania to participate in a US-Nordic summit with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway.
He will also hold a joint news conference with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto before heading back to Washington.
Finland's decision to join NATO broke with seven decades of military non-alignment and roughly doubled the length of the border NATO shares with Russia.
The country repelled an attempted Soviet invasion during World War Two but lost territory. It maintained accommodating relations with Russia until Putin's Ukraine invasion.
Ahead of a bilateral meeting with Niinisto, Biden hailed Finland as an "incredible asset" to the NATO military alliance.
"I don't think NATO has ever been stronger," he told reporters at the palace. "Together we're standing for shared democratic values."
Niinisto said Finland's NATO membership heralded "a new era in our security," and applauded Biden for "creating unity" at the Vilnius summit which focused on uniting behind Ukraine.
A White House official said that during the meetings Biden would also welcome Sweden's prospective entry to NATO after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dropped objections to its application this week.
Sweden had applied to join NATO alongside Finland, but its bid was held up by Turkey, which says Sweden is doing too little against people Ankara sees as terrorists.
"We're seeing a total change to the European security structure as a result of Russia's move and the Nordic countries writ large have moved closer to the West in response to Russia's aggressive and destabilizing actions," the White House official said.
At this week's NATO summit, Biden described Finland and Sweden's push to join NATO as evidence Putin's "craven lust for land and power" had backfired, only serving to strengthen the military alliance.
Biden to Ukraine
He also successfully soothed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who eased off on demands for a quick entry into the alliance.
"We accomplished every goal we set out to accomplish," Biden told reporters at Vilnius airport before departing for Helsinki.
His visit comes almost exactly five years after former president Donald Trump struck a conciliatory tone with Putin at talks in Helsinki.
Biden is also expected to discuss climate change and emerging technologies, among other topics.