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The Finnish government is set to formally apply for NATO membership “before mid-summer” and potentially as early as May.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday the country would vote “before mid-summer” on whether to apply for NATO membership. Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said the vote would likely take place as early as May, according to Agence France-Presse.
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“We will have very careful discussions but without taking more time than necessary,” Marin told a press conference. “I think we’ll end the discussion before mid-summer.”
Stubb, however, was more specific in his prediction, telling AFP on Saturday that the government would likely vote on the issue before the end of May, just in time for June’s NATO summit in Madrid.
“Finns believe that if Putin can slaughter his sisters, brothers and cousins in Ukraine, as he is doing now, then there is nothing stopping him from doing it in Finland. We just don’t want to be left alone anymore,” he said. said Stubb. told AFP.
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While the Finnish public has traditionally been opposed to NATO membership, polls showed a seismic shift on the issue following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, and support for NATO membership rose from 26% to 60% after the invasion.
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Finland has remained wary of its eastern neighbor since the Winter War of 1939, when Soviet forces attempted to invade at the start of World War II. The incoming forces delivered a resounding defeat to the Soviets. Finland lost 26,000 soldiers against at least 126,000 dead or missing for the USSR.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland would certainly be approved if it applied to join the alliance.
Some Russian lawmakers are already offering hostile language regarding a possible NATO-allied Finland. Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said joining the alliance would be a “strategic mistake” for Finland, adding that the country would “become a target”.
“I think so [would be] a terrible tragedy for all the Finnish people,” Dzhabarov said, adding that with such an action, “the Finns themselves will sign a card for the destruction of their country.”