Finland, Russia’s Neighbor, Announces It Wants to Join NATO

A senior NATO official said Sunday that Russia’s military advance in Ukraine appears to be wavering and he has expressed hope that Kiev can win the war as Russia’s neighbor Finland has announced it wants to join the western military alliance.

Top NATO diplomats are meeting Sunday in Berlin to discuss providing more support to Ukraine and the moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join NATO in the face of Russian threats.

“The brutal invasion (by) Russia is running out of steam,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told reporters.

“We know that with the bravery of the Ukrainian people and army, and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, and Mircea Geoana, NATO Deputy Secretary General, arrive for a group photo during an informal meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states. NATO in Berlin, Germany.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, and Mircea Geoana, NATO Deputy Secretary General, arrive for a group photo during an informal meeting of foreign ministers from NATO member states. NATO in Berlin, Germany. (Getty)

Finland’s president and government announced Sunday that the formerly neutral Nordic country that shares a long border with Russia intends to apply for NATO membership, paving the way for the expansion of the 30-member Western military alliance.

President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

“This is a historic day. A new era begins,” said Niinisto.

Ukrainian firefighters work on an apartment building after the bombing in Kiev, Ukraine.
Ukrainian firefighters work on an apartment building after the bombing in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP)

The Finnish Parliament is expected to approve the decision in the coming days, but it is considered a formality.

A formal application for membership will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, likely sometime in the next week.

Geoana, who was chairing the meeting as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recovers from a COVID-19 infection, said Ukraine’s supporters are “united, we are strong, we will continue to help Ukraine win this war.” “.

A key issue being discussed in Berlin is the expansion of NATO in addition to its current 30 member states.

Sweden has also already taken steps to join the alliance, while Georgia’s candidacy is again being discussed, despite Moscow’s dire warnings about the consequences if its neighbor becomes part of NATO.

“Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest partners,” Geoana said, adding that she hopes the allies will view her applications in a positive light.

Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, left, and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto attend the press conference on Finland's security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland.
Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, left, and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto attend the press conference on Finland’s security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. (AP)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country and others made it clear at a dinner on Saturday that they would be willing to speed up the national ratification process for Finland and Sweden.

“If these two countries are deciding to come together, they can come together very quickly,” she said.

Denmark’s foreign minister has rejected suggestions that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objections could prevent the alliance from allowing new members in.

“Each European country has the fundamental right to choose its own security arrangement,” Jeppe Kofod told reporters.

Ukrainian stronghold defenders continue to repel attacks

“We now see a world where the number one enemy of democracy is Putin and the thinking he represents,” he said, adding that NATO would also be with other countries such as Georgia, which he said were being “instrumentalized” by Russia. .

On the sidelines of the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Sunday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the impact of the war and how to get Ukraine’s grain to international markets.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “underscored the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war.”

A Ukrainian soldier patrols during a reconnaissance mission in a recently retaken village on the outskirts of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier patrols during a reconnaissance mission in a recently retaken village on the outskirts of Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine. (AP)

Britain’s top diplomat said NATO members would also discuss security issues outside Europe during their meeting on Sunday – a reference to growing unease among democratic nations over China’s rise.

“In addition to protecting Euro-Atlantic security, we also need to look after the security of the Indo-Pacific,” said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

The meeting follows a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major economies on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast this week.

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