Finland’s leaders say their country should apply for NATO membership ‘without delay’

A French soldier takes part in a major exercise as part of NATO’s Operation EFP (Strengthening Forward Presence) at the Estonian army camp Tapa near Rakvere, on February 6, 2022.

Alan Joquard | Afp | Getty Images

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Thursday that the country should apply to join NATO “without delay”.

Thursday’s announcement is the strongest sign yet that Finland will submit a formal application to join NATO. Membership will be historic for the Scandinavian country, which has pursued a policy of military neutrality for decades.

Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. In a joint statement, the leaders said they hope that “the national steps still necessary to take this decision will be taken quickly over the next few days.”

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

The government will discuss the issue over the weekend and the Finnish parliament is expected to give its final approval to the request as early as Monday.

President Navasto said the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the security situation in Finland even though there was no immediate threat.

Shortly after Finland’s announcement, Denmark, the Scandinavian country, said it would push for NATO’s rapid acceptance of Finland.

“Denmark will do everything for a quick admission process after the formal application is submitted,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Twitter.

There is a risk that Helsinki’s move could lead to aggression from Russia, as President Vladimir Putin has expressed opposition to NATO expansion.

Finland shares a border of 830 miles with Russia; If it joins the military alliance, the land borders that Russia shares with NATO territory will almost double (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 in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has shown that the Kremlin is ready to attack a neighboring country. Finland has been invaded in the past – in 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland in what became known as the Winter War.

NATO – or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – was established in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European countries to provide collective security against Russia’s modern predecessor, the Soviet Union.

Since its founding, the alliance had a thorny relationship with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War and, after its collapse in 1991, the Russian Federation.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated soon.