Finnish leaders say country should apply for NATO membership ‘without delay’

A French soldier participates in a large-scale exercise as part of NATO’s EFP (Enhanced Forward Position) operation at the Tappa Estonian Army camp near Rakvere on February 6, 2022.

Alain Jocard | App | Getty Images

Finnish President Sauli Ninisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they should apply for NATO membership “without delay”.

Thursday’s announcement is the strongest signal that Finland will officially apply to join NATO. For a Nordic country that has maintained a policy of military neutrality for decades, this membership has historical significance.

“Finland should apply for NATO membership without delay.” In a joint statement, the leaders hoped that “the necessary national action to make this decision will be taken quickly within a few days.”

“NATO member states will strengthen Finland’s security” and Finland’s member states will in turn “strengthen the entire defense alliance”.

The government is expected to discuss the matter over the weekend and the Finnish parliament is expected to give final approval to the application as soon as Monday.

President Navasto said the Russian invasion of Ukraine did not pose an immediate threat, but that the security situation in Finland had changed.

The move in Helsinki risks triggering a Russian aggression, when President Vladimir Putin has expressed his opposition to NATO expansion.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia. Joining the military alliance roughly doubles the land borders that Russia shares with NATO territory (Russia has land borders with 14 countries, five of which are NATO members: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway).

Finland is reviewing its security policy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, showing the Kremlin’s readiness to attack its neighbours. Finland has been invaded in the past. In 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland, which became known as the Winter War.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was established in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European countries to provide collective security for the Soviet Union, the predecessor of modern Russia.

Since its inception, the alliance has maintained tangible ties with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War and close ties with the Russian Federation since its collapse in 1991.

This is breaking news and will be updated soon.


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