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HomeWorldFinland to apply for NATO membership ‘without delay’, Russia sees red

Finland to apply for NATO membership ‘without delay’, Russia sees red

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated ‘NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure’.

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New Delhi: Finland, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia, moved a step closer to joining NATO Thursday when its President and Prime Minister announced their support for the move.

In a joint statement, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: “During this spring, an important discussion on Finland’s possible NATO membership has taken place. Time has been needed to let parliament and the whole society establish their stands on the matter. Time has been needed for close international contacts with NATO and its member countries, as well as with Sweden. We have wanted to give the discussion the space it required.”

It added: “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.”

Following the move, Sweden said it would consider Finland’s evaluation of joining the US-led military alliance. Foreign minister Ann Linde tweeted: “Finland is Sweden’s closest security and defence partner, and we need to take Finland’s assessments into account. Sweden will decide after the report from the security policy consultations has been presented.”

Russia has reacted sharply to Finland’s decision, reports CNN.

The Kremlin views Finland’s accession to the military alliance as a threat, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.

“As we have said many times before, NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure,” Peskov told reporters.

Peskov added Russia’s reaction would depend “on what this expansion process will entail, how far and how close to our borders the military infrastructure will move”.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “commended” Finland’s readiness to apply for NATO membership.

He tweeted he had also discussed “Ukraine’s European integration” with the President of Finland.

The alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said Finland would be “warmly welcomed into NATO”. Stating that the accession process would be “smooth and swift”, Stoltenberg said: “Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the European Union, and an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security.”

Last week, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had said the time for Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance is now, while Russian President Vladimir Putin is “preoccupied” with Ukraine.

He warned it could take “months” for the accession procedures to be completed since the parliaments of NATO’s 30 member-states will all need to ratify the accession protocol.

Also read: Europe dreams of military power, but NATO’s still in charge. India must engage with caution


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