Finland May Soon Announce Bid to Join NATO Despite Repeated Russian Warnings
Finland has traditionally been militarily non-aligned but is adjacent to Russia and shares a long border with it.
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Finland is expected to announces its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Thursday, 12 May, Reuters reported.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that Finland "must apply" for NATO membership "without delay."
In a joint statement, they also said "NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance."
Sweden is likely to follow soon after, according to officials with knowledge about the situation.
The potential bid comes in the backdrop of almost three months of war in Ukraine, which was catalysed by a Russian invasion on 24 February.
When President Niinisto was asked on Wednesday if Russia would get provoked by the decision, he said that Putin would be to blame. “My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror,” the president argued.
Finland has traditionally been militarily non-aligned but is adjacent to Russia and shares a 1,300 kilometre (830 mile) border with it.
While it stayed away from NATO to avoid provoking tensions in Russia, public support for NATO membership has doubled from 30 to 60 percent after the invasion of Ukraine began.
"We will have very careful discussions [about joining NATO], but not taking any more time than we have to," PM Sanna Marin had said last month, as reported by The Guardian.
The Kremlin, on the other hand, has also repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, threatening “serious military and political consequences”.
(With inputs from Reuters and The Guardian.)
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Topics: NATO Russia Ukraine Crisis
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