Finland’s leaders announced Thursday that the country is in favor of joining NATO.
“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” said President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement.
Why is Finland joining NATO? “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” said the Finnish leaders in Thursday’s statement.
- Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, public polls in Finland suggest that Russia has driven the country “into NATO’s arms,” The Associated Press reported.
- An opinion poll done in Finland last week reported that 76% of the Finnish were in support of joining NATO, per BBC News.
- The prime minister stated that Finland has to be “prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia,” according to previous Deseret News reporting.
- The decision to join NATO will be formally announced on Sunday, after it is discussed by the country’s government, BBC News reported.
Sweden could follow: Sweden has also expressed interest in joining NATO, the Deseret News reported.
- Russia opposes: Russia sees the expansion of the alliance as a threat to Russia’s national security. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the West and the expansion of NATO for the cause of the war in Ukraine.
- “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,” said Russian leaders in a statement responding to Finland’s decision, via BBC.
Support from the U.S. and the U.K.: Previous Deseret News reporting states that leaders from both the United States and the United Kingdom have promised increased military protection for Finland and Sweden during the application process, in the case that Russia decides to retaliate.