Finland’s president and prime minister said the country should apply for NATO membership without delay.
In a speech on Thursday, leaders said they were in favor of NATO membership application. This is to lay the groundwork for Russia to expand its alliance during the war in Ukraine.
The announcements by President Sauli Ninisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin mean there are still a few steps left before the application process begins, but it is clear that Finland is de facto wanting to join NATO. Neighboring country Sweden is expected to decide to join NATO in the near future.
Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement, “Now that the decision moment is near, we express our equal views to inform parliamentary groups and political parties.” “NATO member countries will strengthen Finland’s security.”
“As a NATO member, Finland will strengthen the entire defense alliance,” they said. “Finland should apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national action still necessary to make this decision will be taken quickly in the next few days.”
Finland, which shares a 1,300km border with Russia, has gradually strengthened cooperation with NATO since the Kremlin annexed Crimea in 2014.
However, until Russia invaded Ukraine, the Nordic countries refrained from joining in order to maintain friendly relations with their eastern neighbors.
After signing a new military pact with Britain during Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit, Prime Minister Ninisto said joining a military alliance was not viewed as a “zero-sum game”.
Finland’s president said that “joining NATO would not be at a disadvantage for anyone”. After the meeting, Downing Street said the two leaders had agreed that “Putin’s invasion had dramatically changed the game of European security.”
The prime minister said a parallel agreement between Sweden and Finland would meet the leaders of both countries and help defend each country if threatened. Prime Minister Johnson said he would receive Finnish support, including military support, if Britain attacked Finland.
“I think the solemn declaration itself is clear,” he said at a press conference in Helsinki with Finnish President Sauli Ninisto when asked if there would be “British military boots” on Finnish territory during “possible conflict with Russia”.
“And in the event of a disaster or if one of us is attacked, we will support each other, including military assistance.
Finnish public support for NATO membership has risen in recent months to record numbers in recent public opinion polls by public broadcasters. YLE Support for membership stood at around 25% in the years before the Ukrainian War, while 76% of Finns were in favor and only 12% opposed.
Military non-alignment has long satisfied many Finns as a way to avoid conflict, but Russia’s invasion of sovereign Ukraine has led more and more Finns to view friendly relations with Russia as an empty expression.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to decide on Sunday whether to reverse decades of opposition to NATO membership, which will almost certainly require Sweden to join the 30-nation alliance as well.
Russia has repeatedly warned the two countries not to join the alliance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently said on March 12 that doing so would have “serious military and political consequences”.