A senior official said a “large majority” of Finns support joining the US-led bloc
Finland is “most likely“To apply for NATO membership, the country’s EU Minister Tytti Tuppurainen told Sky News on Friday.
“At this point, I would say it is very likely, but no decision has been made yet.” She said.
She claimed one “large majority” of the Finns wanted their country to join the decades-old military alliance but said the decision had not yet been made in parliament. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer-long land border with Russia and was part of the Russian Empire before 1917, but it maintained close neutrality during the Cold War.
Tuppurainen referred to Russia’s Ukraine operation as one “wake up call” and said she hoped the process of Helsinki’s NATO accession would be “as quickly as possible.”
Russia has demanded that Ukraine adopt an official policy of neutrality and promises never to join the military pact of the Cold War.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday that her country is reviewing the possibilities of applying for membership in NATO, as well as neighboring Sweden. At a joint press conference in Stockholm where they announced the move, her Swedish counterpart said that Russia’s attack on Ukraine had “completely changed” the “security landscape” of Europe. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday that the two historically non-aligned countries would become platforms that NATO uses to threaten Russia if it joins the US-led military bloc.
“Of course, the choice lies with the authorities in Sweden and Finland. But they should realize the consequences of such a transition to our bilateral relations and the European security architecture, which is currently in a state of crisis.,” She said.
Finland used to be part of the Russian Empire before making a successful bid for independence in 1917. The Soviet Union and Finland fought a bloody war from 1939 to 1940 during the construction of World War II which resulted in certain territorial concessions on the part of Helsinki.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, which were first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s final recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. The German and French mediated Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kyiv insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims that it planned to retake the two republics by force.