Finland will apply to join NATO, its president has confirmed, despite Putin warning it would be a “mistake”.
Membership of the military alliance will “maximise” Finland’s security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto said.
The nation will submit a formal application for membership to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week.
Last week, Russia said Finland joining the alliance would “cause serious damage to bilateral Russian-Finnish relations and the maintaining of stability and security in the Northern European region.”
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to neutralise the threats to its national security that arise from this,” a Kremlin statement added.
Speaking on Sunday, Finland’s Niinisto described the historic move as the start of a “new era.”
“In the future, I have described that the Finnish-Russian relationship will change and I’m sure Russians think in a similar way but, like I said, there are daily questions where you have to be capable of co-operating,” he added.
A similar membership move is now anticipated from Sweden.
Finnish policymakers had been threatened with a suspension of gas exports by Russia, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported last week.
However, the government’s emergency preparedness committee said it was prepared for this possibility.