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Finland’s president and prime minister urge country to apply ‘without delay’ for NATO membership

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The president and prime minister of Finland, a country bordering Russia, issued a statement on Thursday supporting a bid to join the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) amid Kremlin aggression on the eastern flank of Europe, particularly in Ukraine.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” Finnish 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 called on the country to proceed immediately.

UK STRENGTHENS DEFENSIVE ALLIANCE WITH SWEDEN AND FINLAND AS COUNTRIES JOIN NATO

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” the leaders added. “We hope that the national steps still necessary to make this decision will be taken quickly in the coming days.”

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

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In the statement, Niinistö and Marin noted that the country is engaged in “an important discussion” on NATO membership, for which “it has taken time to leave Parliament and the whole of society establish their positions on the matter”. The country has also been slow 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.

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

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto arrive at the presidential palace for talks, in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, pool)

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

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

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