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Finland's leaders call for NATO belonging 'without delay'

Finland's leaders call for NATO belonging 'without delay'

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland's leaders said Thursday they're inside good turn of fast applying for NATO membership, paving the way for a famous expansion of the alliance that could deal a solemn blow to Russia while its military struggles accompanied by its war inside Ukraine.

The theatrical go by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto with every one other accompanied by Prime Minister Sanna Marin. It means that Finland is all nevertheless sure to fasten NATO, though a few steps carry on accompanied by to exist earlier to the application procedure tin begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to resolve on joining NATO inside coming days.

The Kremlin reacted to the evolution a few hours later, saying that Finland's go to fasten NATO won't assist stability with every one other accompanied by safety inside Europe. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border accompanied by Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia's response to the go would be contingent on on what specific steps NATO will lay clasp of to convey its infrastructure near to Russian borders. He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin by that hour dated had ordered to labour not here steps to build strong the country's defenses inside the the occident inside response to NATO's expansion closer to Russian borders.

Previously, the Kremlin had warned of "military with every one other accompanied by political repercussions" if Sweden with every one other accompanied by Finland resolve to fasten NATO. Should they apply, there will exist an interim time lasting from when an application has been handed inside until all 30 NATO members' parliaments have ratified it.

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"NATO belonging would build strong Finland's security. As a subscriber of NATO, Finland would build strong the entire defence alliance," Niinisto with every one other accompanied by Marin said inside a join statement. "Finland must apply for NATO belonging lacking delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to build this decision will exist taken fast within the following few days."

The statement on Thursday came a day following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited both Finland with every one other accompanied by Sweden to sign a military collaboration agreement.

The U.K. pledged on Wednesday to go nearer to the assistance of Sweden with every one other accompanied by Finland if the set of two Nordic nations came under attack.

During a join report conference accompanied by Johnson with every one other accompanied by Niinisto inside Helsinki, the Finnish head of condition said Moscow could only clasp in charge of itself should his nation of 5.5 million people become a NATO member.

"You (Russia) caused this. Look at the mirror," Niinisto said pointedly Wednesday.

On Thursday, Niinisto tweeted that he spoke accompanied by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy concerning Finland's firm support for Ukraine with every one other accompanied by the country's intention to fasten NATO. Niinisto said that Zelenskyy "expressed his filled support for it."

In 2017, Sweden with every one other accompanied by Finland joined the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is designed to exist additional flexible with every one other accompanied by respond additional fast than the larger NATO alliance. It uses NATO standards with every one other accompanied by doctrine, so it tin operate inside conjunction accompanied by NATO, the United Nations or other multinational coalitions. Fully operational since 2018, the strength has held a number of exercises both independently with every one other accompanied by inside collaboration accompanied by NATO.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Finland with every one other accompanied by Sweden have been pondering whether to renounce their historic, decades-old neutrality with every one other accompanied by fasten the 30-member NATO. After Moscow launched its assault on Ukraine, condition support inside the set of two countries started to fast shift in the direction of belonging inside NATO, earliest inside Finland with every one other accompanied by a small portion subsequent inside Sweden.

The latest opinion poll conducted by Finnish condition broadcaster YLE showed earlier this week that 76% of Finns are inside good turn of joining NATO, a large alter from earlier years when only 20-30% of respondents favored such military alignment.

Speaking to European Union lawmakers Thursday while Niinisto's with every one other accompanied by Marin's announcement was made, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said that "the war started by Russia jeopardizes the safety with every one other accompanied by stability of the whole of Europe."

Haavisto said that Russia's unpredictable behavior is a solemn be about for Finland, notably Moscow's readiness to pay "high-risk operations" that could lead to numerous casualties, including among Russians themselves.

Should Finland become a NATO member, it would signify the biggest alter inside the Nordic country's protection with every one other accompanied by safety policy since World War II when it fought set of two lost wars opposed to the Soviet Union. Along accompanied by Sweden, Finland joined the European Union inside 1995 with every one other accompanied by has the longest border accompanied by Russia not here of all the bloc's 27 members.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted that Finland's announcement gave an "important message" with every one other accompanied by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that there were "strong messages" from Finland's president with every one other accompanied by main minister.

During the Cold War, Finland stayed away from NATO to retain away from provoking the Soviet Union, while an alternative opting to carry on accompanied by to exist a neutral buffer in the centre of the East with every one other accompanied by the West while maintaining good relations accompanied by Moscow with every one other accompanied by too accompanied by the United States.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the military alliance would greeting Finland with every one other accompanied by Sweden — both of which have strong, modern militaries — accompanied by not shut arms with every one other accompanied by expects the accession procedure to exist speedy with every one other accompanied by smooth.

NATO officials speak the Nordic duo's accession procedure could exist done "in a set of two of weeks." The most hour dated consuming small portion of the procedure – ratification of the country's protocol by the 30 NATO subscriber countries – could flat exist completed inside less hour dated than the quartet months or so that it took West Germany, Turkey with every one other accompanied by Greece to fasten inside the 1950s, when there were only 12 members to ratify their applications.

"These are not normal times," one NATO official said this week, discussing the possible applications of Finland with every one other accompanied by Sweden. The official was briefing reporters concerning the accession procedure on condition that he not exist named while no indeed application has been made by the set of two countries.

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Lorne Cook inside Brussels, with every one other accompanied by Jan M. Olsen inside Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Finland's leaders call for NATO belonging 'without delay'

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