Finland will abandon decades of neutrality and apply for NATO membership despite Russian threat of retaliation

The decision was announced at a joint press conference on Sunday with President Sauli Ninisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who said the move must be ratified by the national parliament before proceeding.

“I hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership,” Marin said at a press conference in Helsinki on Sunday. “For the next few days. It will build on the strong powers of the President of the Republic. We have been in close contact with the governments of NATO member states and NATO itself.”

The move will elevate the US-led military alliance to Finland’s 830-mile border with Russia, but could take months to finalize as the legislature of all 30 current members must approve new applicants.

According to a Kremlin statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday told Finnish President Sauli Ninisto that it would be a “mistake” to renounce military neutrality and join the coalition risks provoking outrage in Russia. On Saturday, Russia halted electricity supply to the Nordic countries over payment receipt issues.

After World War II, when Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union, Finland was militarily non-aligned and nominally neutral to avoid provocations with Russia. It sometimes indulged in security issues in the Kremlin and tried to maintain good trade relations.

The invasion of Ukraine changed that calculation.

On Saturday, Niinistö said the security landscape in Finland had changed with Russia’s demands to prevent Russia from joining NATO and by late 2021 to prevent a large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Statement from the Office of the President of Finland.

Sweden has expressed similar dissatisfaction and is expected to make similar moves toward joining NATO.

Both countries already meet many criteria for membership in NATO, including the functioning of a democratic political system based on a market economy. Treat minorities fairly. We promise to resolve conflicts peacefully. Commitment to democratic civil-military relations and institutions, capable and willing to make military contributions to NATO operations.

NATO member Turkey, which claims to have acted as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, has expressed regret for integrating Finland and Sweden into the alliance. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that he was not optimistic about Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger contributed to this article.


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