The United States will support Finland's and/or Sweden's bid for NATO membership if they choose to apply, The Hill representative of the State Department reported.

Both Finland and Sweden are close and valued defense partners of the US and NATO, he said.

Karen Donfried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told lawmakers that discussions in Berlin are likely to focus on how NATO members can help broker a security pact with Finland and Sweden in the coming months.

Donfried noted that Finland's and Sweden's turn towards NATO marks another growing indication of the kind of strategic failure Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering from today.

NATO expansion will require the governments of each of the 30 member states to ratify the accession of Finland and Sweden. Support for Helsinki in NATO was quickly announced by member states including the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Iceland, to name but a few.

The timing of ratification really depends on the political dynamics and legislative timetable in Allied capitals, but could be as short as a few months, said Gene Germanovich, an international defense researcher with the RAND Corporation.

The rapid pace of decision-making and consensus-building in Helsinki and Stockholm, and the desire to do so quickly, reflect the dramatic change in the security environment. The leadership and the public of both countries consider NATO the best means of deterring Russian aggression.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said his committee is already working to ensure a speedy review of the two countries joining the alliance.