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Finland to apply to join Nato amid Russia’s war with Ukraine

Finland’s president and prime minister have said they support applying to join Nato.

The announcement by president Sauli Niinisto and prime minister Sanna Marin means Finland is virtually certain to seek Nato membership.

While the nation must complete a few more steps before the application process can begin, the move would pave the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Neighbouring Sweden is also expected to decide to join Nato in the coming days after both nations signed security pacts with the UK.

Finland shares an 830-mile (1,340-kilometer) land border with Russia.

The Kremlin has warned of ‘military and political repercussions’ if Sweden and Finland decide to join the alliance.

But it is understood there has been a significant rise in public support for Nato membership in both countries since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

If the northern European neighbours do apply, there will be an interim period lasting from when an application has been handed in until all 30 NATO members’ parliaments have ratified it.

MEMBERS OF NATO IN EUROPE map
Sweden and Finland have sown a strong interest in joining Nato (Picture: Metro Graphics)

‘Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,’ Mr Niinisto and Ms Marin said in a joint statement.

‘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.’

The dramatic move comes after both Finland and Sweden signed military cooperation deals with the UK.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ilpo Musto/REX/Shutterstock (12936615b) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Finland President Sauli Niinist? over NATO membership Boris Johnson visits Finland over NATO membership, Helsinki, Finland - 11 May 2022
Both Finland and Sweden struck military pacts with the UK on Wednesday (Picture: Ilpo Musto/REX/Shutterstock)

Boris Johnson visited both countries yesterday to pledge the UK would send troops to the two nations in the event of a Russian incursion from ’21st century tyrant’ Vladimir Putin.

Should Finland become a Nato member, it would mean the biggest change in the Nordic country’s defense and security policy since the Second World War when it fought two lost wars against the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, Finland stayed away from Nato to avoid provoking the Soviet Union.

The nation chose to remain a neutral buffer between the East and the West while maintaining good relations with Moscow and the United States.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said the military alliance would welcome Finland and Sweden — both of which have strong, modern militaries — with open arms and expects the accession process to be speedy and smooth.

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