Finland announces NATO candidacy in historic move

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

Alain Jocard | AFP | Getty Images

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

Thursday’s announcement is the strongest sign yet that Finland will formally apply for NATO membership. Membership would be historic for the Nordic country, which has pursued a policy of military neutrality for decades.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay.” the leaders said in a joint statement, adding that they hoped that “the national steps still necessary to make this decision will be taken quickly in the coming days”.

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

The government will debate the issue over the weekend and Finland’s parliament is expected to give final approval to the request as early as Monday.

President Navasto said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed Finland’s security situation, although there is no immediate threat.

Shortly after Finland’s announcement, fellow Nordic Denmark said it would push for Finland’s early NATO membership.

“Denmark will do everything for a fast admission process after the official application,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Twitter.

Leaving Helsinki risks triggering aggression from Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has expressed opposition to NATO expansion.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia; if it joined the military alliance, the land border that Russia shares with NATO territories would roughly double (Russia has land borders with 14 countries and five of them are members of NATO: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway).

Finland has reviewed its security policy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which showed 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 founded in 1949 by the United States, Canada and several Western European countries to provide collective security against the ancestor of modern Russia, The soviet union.

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

This is breaking news and will be updated shortly.

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