Announcements signify historic shift in policy in Nordic countries that will redraw Europe’s security map
Finland has formally confirmed it intends to join Nato, abandoning decades of military non-alignment in a historic policy shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that will redraw the security map of Europe.
“The president and the government’s foreign policy committee have agreed that after consulting parliament, Finland will apply for Nato membership,” president Sauli Niinistö told a press conference. “A protected Finland is being born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region.”
He hailed the decision as “a historic day” for the Nordic country, adding: “A new era is opening. A lot has happened since the day Russia invaded Ukraine. We gain security, and we also share it. It’s good to keep in mind that security isn’t a zero-sum game.”
Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said the proposal would be sent to parliament on Monday for ratification. “We hope parliament will confirm the decision in the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate,” she said.
Marin added that as a member of Nato, Finland would help reinforce not just the 30-member, US-led defensive alliance but also “strengthen the EU, whose voice in Nato can become stronger.” The two Finnish leaders had said on Friday the country must “must apply for Nato membership without delay”.
With neighbouring Sweden’s ruling party also holding a decisive meeting on Sunday on whether to back a Swedish application for membership, Moscow’s onslaught on Ukraine looks set to usher in the expansion of Nato that Vladimir Putin claimed he wanted to prevent.
The announcement came as western intelligence agencies reported that Russia had suffered heavy military losses in Ukraine and risks getting further bogged down in the strategically important east of the country amid ongoing stiff resistance.
Finland shares an 810-mile (1,300km) border with Russia and, like Sweden, has maintained strict policies of neutrality then non-alignment since the end of the second world war, viewing Nato membership as a provocation of Moscow.
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats backs country joining Nato
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats said on Sunday that they backed the country joining Nato, abandoning decades of opposition in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and creating a large parliament majority in favour of membership.
“The party board has at its meeting on May 15, 2022 decided that the party will work toward Sweden applying for membership in NATO,” the Social Democrats said in a statement.
With Finland already set to hand in its application, Sweden’s prime minister Magdalena Andersson is now all but certain to launch a formal application within days, Reuters reports.