Finland’s president, prime minister, urge the country to apply for NATO membership “without delay”

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The president and prime minister of Finland, a country bordering the Russiareleased a statement Thursday in support of an application for membership of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) amid the Kremlin aggression on Europe’s eastern flank, particularly in Ukraine.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement. “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance.”

They asked the country to proceed immediately.

UNITED KINGDOM REACHES DEFENSIVE ALLIANCE WITH SWEDEN AND FINLAND AS COUNTRIES BECOME NATO MEMBERS

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” the leaders added. “We hope that the national measures still necessary to take this decision will be taken quickly within the next few days.”

On February 24, 2022, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (R) and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin held a press conference on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Helsinki, Finland.
(Photo by MARKKU ULANDER / Lehtikuva / AFP via Getty Images)

In the statements, Niinistö and Marin noted that the country is engaged in “an important discussion” about joining NATO, for which “it took time to allow Parliament and society as a whole to take a stand on the issue”. The country also delayed to develop “close international contacts with NATO and its member countries as well as with Sweden”.

The statement comes a day after the UK strengthened its defense alliances with Sweden and Finland.

“We made history today by signing a joint declaration of solidarity to strengthen our security and defense ties and bring our nations even closer together,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet after meeting with his Swedish counterpart. “We are literally and metaphorically in the same boat”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, arrive at the Presidential Palace for talks in Helsinki, Finland on Wednesday 11 May 2022.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, arrive at the Presidential Palace for talks in Helsinki, Finland on Wednesday 11 May 2022.
(Photo AP / Frank Augstein, Pool)

Germany and the United States already have agreements to defend Finland and Sweden from Russian aggression.

Last month, Moscow threatened that if Sweden and Finland joined the military alliance, it would place nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles along the western border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto speak during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Oct.10. 29, 2021.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto speak during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Oct.10. 29, 2021.
(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, photo of the Kremlin pool via AP, file)

Sweden avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after being defeated by the Soviet Union in World War II.

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The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is located on the other side of the Gulf of Finland from the historical capital of Russia, St. Petersburg.