The president said Finland will apply to join NATO in a historic move for the neutral country

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

Frank Augustine | Reuters

On Sunday, the President of Finland said that Finland will apply for NATO membership, in a historic move for the Scandinavian country, which has been following a policy of military neutrality for decades.

At a press conference alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin, President Sauli Niinistö said: “Today, we, the President and the Government’s Foreign Policy Committee, have decided together that Finland … will apply for NATO membership.”

He added that joining the military alliance would maximally enhance Finland’s security after the unprecedented Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Marin described the enforcement’s move as an “important decision” based on a “strong mandate.”

“We hope that parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership in the coming days,” she added. The official application is expected next week.

Finland shares a border of 830 miles with Russia; If it joins the military alliance, the land border that Russia shares with NATO territory will almost double.

As such, there is a risk that the move from Helsinki could provoke aggression from Russia, where the President Russian President Vladimir Putin He repeatedly expressed his opposition to the expansion of NATO.

President Niinisto said he spoke to Putin on Saturday and informed him of Finland’s decision.

Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Finland’s entry into NATO would be a “radical change” in the country’s foreign policy. “Russia will have to take retaliatory stepsIt is of a military-technical nature and so on in order to stop the emergence of threats to its national security.”

Marin said Finland was in close contact with NATO and its members about the decision. Last week, Marin and Niinisto said the country should apply to join NATO “without delay”.

Turkey opposed

One potential obstacle on the horizon is Turkey, the NATO member with the second largest army after the United States’ ascension to a new member state requires the unanimous approval of all existing members.

“We do not hold positive views” about Finland and possible Swedish membership, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday. Sweden is expected to follow Finland’s example and also apply to join NATO in the near future.

earlier Sunday, Deputy Secretary General of NATO took a confident tone In Finland and Sweden you are likely to join the group.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Mircea Giwana said the two countries were already NATO’s closest partners.

“I am confident that if, in the next few days, these two countries decide that I understand, to seek membership in NATO, that [we] He will be able to welcome them and create all the conditions to meet the consensus.”

On Turkey, Jiwana added, “They have expressed concerns that have been addressed and discussed among friends and allies.”

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