HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s president and prime minister said Thursday they’re in favor of applying for NATO membership, paving the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement. It means that Finland is virtually certain to seek NATO membership, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in coming days.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia. The Kremlin has warned of “military and political repercussions” if Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO. Should they 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.
“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement. “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security.”