Finland’s leaders say they’re in favor of rapidly applying for NATO membership. It paves the way for a historic expansion of the alliance that could deal a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles with its war in Ukraine.
The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. It means that Finland is all but certain to join NATO.
But a few steps remain before the application process can begin.
Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in the coming days.
The Kremlin reacted to the development a few hours later, saying that Finland’s move to join NATO won’t help stability and security in Europe. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has wanted NATO expansion to include Ukraine, praised Finland for joining the alliance.
Had a phone conversation with President of Finland @niinisto. Commended the readiness of 🇫🇮 to apply for NATO membership. We also discussed Ukraine's European integration. And 🇺🇦 - 🇫🇮 defense interaction.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 12, 2022