Finland Supports NATO Membership Bid – KyivPost

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on May 12 officially endorsed the idea that their country should join NATO.

The move comes after Russia decided to launch all-out war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, with Finland looking to benefit from the Alliance’s mutual defense clause.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Neighboring neutral Sweden is likewise slated to join the Alliance, with the British PM Boris Johnson traveling to Stockholm on Wednesday to sign security guarantees should the country be attacked before it becomes eligible for the mutual defense clause.

The two countries may submit their bids together next week when Niinistö travels to Sweden on Tuesday.

“I spoke with President Zelensky and reiterated Finland’s firm support for Ukraine. I informed him of Finland’s steps towards NATO membership and he expressed his full support for it,” Niinistö tweeted following the announcement.

He also said that Russia’s recent behavior has prompted Helsinki to abandon neutrality, stressing that: “They are ready to attack a neighboring country. So, when you ask how [Russia sees] a possible Finnish joining of NATO … my response would be: You caused this, look in the mirror.”

Finland’s decision to join NATO marks a tectonic shift in its foreign policy. Following its two wars with the Soviets, for decades it attempted to stay militarily neutral in order not to provoke Russia.

Several days of political discussions will now follow in Finland and Sweden, with the ruling parties announcing their official positions on Sunday.

Once the two eventual applications have been submitted, a ratification process by the 30 current NATO members can begin.

NATO has pledged to expedite the two country’s membership bids, with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg noting that by joining the Alliance, Finland will strengthen the country and the organization.

Russia’s Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has indirectly reacted to Finland’s decision to join the Alliance, saying that a conflict between NATO and Russia could turn nuclear.

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