Finland officials said Thursday that they are in favor of rapidly applying for NATO membership despite various threats of retaliation from Russia.
The dramatic move comes days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited both Sweden and Finland to sign a military cooperation agreement that said the UK would protect both countries should Russia attack them.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sann Marin said in a joint statement.
“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.”
Finland’s acceptance into NATO is extremely likely, but the country still has a few more steps to complete before the application process is even allowed to begin. Sweden, which shares a border with Finland, is also expected to join NATO this week.
NATO officials have said that the process to make Finland an official member should only take a “couple of weeks.”
“These are not normal times,” said a NATO official.
Kremlin officials issued a statement saying that if Finland was to join NATO, it would “inflict serious damage to Russian-Finnish relations as well as stability and security in Northern Europe.”
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps of military-technical and other characteristics in order to counter the emerging threats to its national security,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
“History will determine why Finland needed to turn its territory into a bulwark of military face-off with Russia while losing independence in making its own decisions.”
During a press conference, Niinisto said Russia was the only entity responsible should Finland become an official member.
“You [Russia] caused this. Look at the mirror,” Niinisto said.
With Post wires
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