Finland has confirmed it will apply to join NATO, despite Russia’s president warning it would be a “mistake” to do so.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said joining the military alliance will “maximize” his country’s security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A formal application for membership is expected to be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week.
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“This is a historic day. A new era begins,” said Niinisto.
He added that the measure gives him “mental security” and membership is of “great importance” for the country.
“In the future, I have described that the Finnish-Russian relationship will change and I am sure that Russians think in a similar way, but as I said, there are daily questions where you should be able to cooperate,” the statement said. said president.
Yesterday, Mr. Niinisto told Vladimir Putin about his intentions, prompting a Russian president’s warning that abandoning neutrality would be a “mistake”.
In response, Finland’s leader told Putin that the invasion of Ukraine had changed the country’s security environment.
Finland’s NATO application is expected to be followed by a similar move by Sweden.
After the announcement, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the requests from both countries are “very important” and “will strengthen the entire Nordic region”.
An expansion of the 30-nation military alliance would be a blow to Putin, who waged the war in what he said was an attempt to stop his eastward advance.
Alliance countries are obligated to defend each other if any one of them is attacked.
The announcement came during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, where the war in Ukraine and the expansion of the alliance were discussed.
Will the UK support Finland’s candidacy?
Speaking at the meeting, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there was “strong support” for a “more global NATO”.
“At NATO this weekend, we agreed that we must continue to help Ukraine win and expel Russia. Putin must face sustained defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be contained and such aggression must never happen again,” he added.
“NATO’s open-door policy is essential and if Finland and Sweden decide to sign up, of course they will strengthen the alliance and European security as a whole.”
Earlier on Sunday, Truss said Britain was “strongly in favor” of Finland and Sweden’s bid for membership.