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Russia’s neighbor Finland appears closer to joining NATO Wednesday after parliamentary groups reportedly showed support for becoming part of a military alliance in response to Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.
Eight out of 10 group leaders during a debate in Finnish Parliament indicated they were in favor of joining NATO or at least aligning itself militarily, according to Reuters.
“It is evident that Russia’s actions have brought Finland several steps closer to military alignment being necessary,” Antti Lindtman, the leader of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats, was quoted by the news agency as saying.
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“The Centre Party group… is ready for all decisions Finland’s security requires, including applying for a NATO membership,” its leader, Juha Pylvas, reportedly said.
But Left Alliance leader Jussi Saramo said the idea of Finland joining NATO should be taken up in a wider discussion, as submitting an application to do so would ratchet up border tensions and possibly make Finland a potential target in any future conflict between the alliance and Moscow.
Marin last week said that Finland will decide on NATO membership in “weeks rather than months,” according to Euro News.
“The difference between being a [NATO] partner and being a member is very clear, and will remain so. There’s no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defense as guaranteed by NATO’s article five,” Marin said. She called NATO “an important part of Europe’s political and security architecture.”
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Marin stressed that there was no set timeline but that “everything has changed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Recent polls in Finland discovered national attitudes on the issue shifted dramatically, with support to join NATO jumping from 26% in 2021 to 60% following the invasion – the first time support breached the 50% threshold since Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA started collecting data in the 1980s.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.
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