Finnish President, Prime Minister Support the Country Joining NATO
07:04 GMT 12.05.2022 (Updated: 07:41 GMT 12.05.2022)
© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysFinland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.
© AP Photo / Olivier Matthys
At the NATO summit in June two European countries, Finland and Sweden, are expected to announce their formal decision to join the alliance.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have issued a joint statement that they support country's accession to NATO.
"Finland should apply without delay to join NATO. We hope that the national steps that are still needed to make this decision will be taken quickly over the next few days," the statement said.
Membership of NATO will strengthen the security of Finland, the statement said.
The US expects Sweden to present its formal application to become a full member of NATO by the end of June, while Finland could formally announce its decision on accession already this month.
According to Thursday media reports, Sweden plans to apply for NATO membership on 16 May.
Finland and Sweden started discussing the possibility of abandoning long-term neutrality and joining NATO amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The head of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said in March that NATO will gladly welcome Finland and Sweden and will provide them with the opportunity to quickly join the alliance.
In the past two months, Swedish and Finnish prime ministers, Magdalena Andersson and Sanna Marin have instigated high-level discussions, both at home and abroad, about terms and consequences of applying for NATO membership, with the allies voicing their support.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that the issue of possible NATO accession by Finland and Sweden is subject to careful analysis for Russia.
In turn, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said that Russia will not remain indifferent in the event of Finland joining NATO and added that this decision to join NATO will not strengthen the security of either Finland or the alliance.
On 24 February, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian provocations. In response, the EU rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow, which includes airspace closures and restrictive measures targeting numerous Russian officials and entities, media and financial institutions.