- Finland’s president and prime minister said the country needs to apply to NATO “without delay.”
- NATO’s head said they would be welcomed quickly and smoothly into the bloc.
- Sweden also looks set to join NATO, and the countries’ joining would be a huge blow to Putin.
Finland’s president and prime minister said they want their country to apply to join NATO as soon as possible in the strongest statement of support yet that the country’s leaders have made in favor of joining the military alliance.
They said in a joint statement on Thursday, as reported by numerous outlets: “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.
“We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed political and public support for NATO membership in Finland to an all-time high, as it has in Sweden, which is also expected to apply to join the bloc.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke favorably of Finland joining on Thursday.
“Should Finland decide to apply, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO, and the accession process would be smooth and swift,” he said, according to the BBC.
He added: “Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the European Union, and an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security.”
Russia has threatened to retaliate against Finland and Sweden if they move to join NATO. “As we have said many times before, NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, per CNN.
Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, and the two countries deciding to join would be a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who framed his invasion of Ukraine as a response to the potential of Russia’s neighbors joining NATO.
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