Finland and Sweden formally announced their plans to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed at a press conference that his country will apply for NATO membership, calling it a “historic day.”
The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in the coming days, which is seen as a formality.
Finland had stayed out of NATO to avoid antagonizing its eastern neighbor Russia.
“By joining NATO, Finland strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibility. It is not away from anyone else. Also in the future, Finland wants to take care of the practical questions arising from being a neighbor of Russia in a correct and professional manner,” Niinisto said in a statement.
Niinisto also said that he informed Russian President Vladimir Putin about the decision via phone call.
Niinisto described the conversation with Putin as “direct and straightforward” and “without aggravations.”
Shortly afterward, the governing Social Democrats in Sweden announced that it supported joining NATO, paving the way for the country to apply and marking a historic shift.
Sweden had stayed neutral during World War II and had avoided joining military alliances for over two centuries.
“This is not a decision we made lightly but after very careful consideration,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said in a statement on May 15.
“The military freedom of alliance has served Sweden well, but in the new security policy reality that prevails, the conclusion is that it will not serve us as well in the future,” Andersson further said.
Formal membership applications will be submitted to the NATO headquarters in Brussels most likely next week.
Editors Note: Story “FINLAND-SWEDEN-NATO-PLANS” corrected on 16.05.2022 14:02
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