Finland has confirmed that it will apply to join NATO, despite a warning from the Russian president that it would be a “mistake”.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said joining the military alliance “maximizes” his country’s security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A formal membership application is expected to be submitted to NATO Headquarters in Brussels next week.
“This is a historic day. A new era is beginning,” Mr Niinisto said.
He added that the move gives him “security of spirit” and membership is “of great importance” to the country.
“In the future, I have described that Finnish-Russian relations will change, and I am sure that Russians think similarly, but, as I said, there are daily issues where you need to be able to cooperate,” he said. said the president.
Finland, which has a long border with Russia, used to be a neutral country.
Yesterday, Mr. Niinist told Vladimir Putin of his intentions, provoking it Russian president’s warning that abandoning neutrality would be a “mistake”.
In response, the Finnish leader told Putin that the invasion of Ukraine had changed the security situation in the country.
Other key events:
• Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest. in a huge show of support from the rest of the continent
• The G7 countries promise more military and economic assistance to Ukraine
• Britain believes Russia has “probably” lost “one third” of its ground forces since the invasion began
• Russia’s military advance seems shaky, says a senior NATO official
• According to the local governor, “four enemy missiles” struck at Ukrainian military infrastructure
A similar step by Sweden is expected to follow Finland’s claim to NATO membership.
Following the announcement, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that applications from both countries were “very important” and “will strengthen the entire Northern Region”.
Expanding a military alliance of 30 countries would be a blow to Putin, who launched the war, he said, in a bid to thwart its eastward advance.
Allies are obliged to protect each other in the event of an attack on any of them.
This became known at a time when a meeting of NATO foreign ministers took place in Berlin to discuss the war in Ukraine and the expansion of the alliance.
The Kremlin says that Finland’s application to NATO “definitely” will be a threat to Russia and will bring “symmetrical responses”
Zelensky calls Russia “crazy” for still trying to snatch victory
Will the UK support Finland’s bid?
Speaking at the meeting, British Foreign Secretary Liz Trass said that “there was strong support” for “more global NATO”.
“At NATO this weekend, we agreed that we must continue to help Ukraine win and oust Russia. Putin must face a lasting defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be restrained, and such aggression must never be repeated,” she added.
“NATO’s open door policy is very important, and if Finland and Sweden decide to apply to join, it is clear that they will strengthen the alliance and European security in general.”
Earlier, Ms. Rabbit said that the UK “strongly supports” the application for the accession of Finland and Sweden.
Former British Army officer Ed Arnold told Sky News that if both countries join NATO, it will be a “very significant moment”, especially in terms of how European security is set up.
He added that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had already signed the joint declarations to make sure they were “safe in terms of NATO membership and the ratification process, which will take a couple of months”.
What do other NATO members think?
On Saturday, Turkey objected to potential requests from the two northern countries, saying both “openly support and cooperate” with the banned Kurdish group of PKK militants and the “terrorist organization” YPG.
However, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said he was “confident” that the alliance would be able to resolve Turkey’s problems and welcomed all countries in finding “conditions for consensus”.
“Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest partners,” he said, adding that he expected Allies to take a positive view of their bids.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would try to “speed up” the ratification process “as much as possible”, and “the plan is to make the process faster” than before.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said her country and others had made it clear that they were ready to speed up the formal signing process for Finland and Sweden.
“If these two countries decide to join, they can join very quickly,” she said. “Sweden and Finland, if you’re ready, we’re ready.”
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said there is support “almost everywhere” from existing NATO members for the possibility of joining the two countries.
“As we speak, everything is being worked out,” he added.
Meanwhile, Denmark has rejected views that Putin’s objections to Finland’s accession to the alliance will prevent it from accepting new members.
“Every European country has the fundamental right to choose its own security system,” he said.
He added that NATO would also support other countries, such as Georgia, which he said were “instrumentalized” by Russia.