President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement today, on May 12, the country “must” put in its NATO bid, and fast. They added the required steps would be taken within days to bring it closer to the alliance.
“We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
The move has been brewing for some time, but has been prompted now by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland shares over 800 of border with Russia.
Moscow has warned Helsinki it would have to “rebalance the situation” if NATO membership is approved.
It has also stressed there could be “military and political consequences” in response to the move.
Vladimir Putin warned against further NATO expansionism before he ordered the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Pope Francis also said this month the military alliance could previously have been seen as “barking” at Russia’s door.
He added this “perhaps facilitated” the invasion.
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Max Seddon of the Financial Times highlighted the significance of the move by pointing to the fact Finland has upheld “decades of neutrality [over NATO] so stringent the country became a byword for it”.
He described the upcoming application for NATO membership as “yet more blowback from Moscow’s war in Ukraine”.
More to follow.