Finnish President Sauli Niinisto would voice support for joining the Western military alliance on May 12
Finland will announce its intention to join NATO on May 12, in a bid to speed up the process of applying for the military bloc, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported on Monday, citing multiple sources.
According to the outlet, President Sauli Niinisto will announce his support for joining the alliance in the morning. Later today his announcement will be followed up.”in the spirit of parliamentarismby the parliamentary groups also giving their approval.
The date of May 12 was chosen because the various parliamentary committees were already planning to discuss foreign affairs and security on that day. Prime Minister Sanna Marin also approved the date of the decision.
“The position is that Finland is a candidate for membership,said Iltalehti.
The text of the decision, which has apparently already been prepared, will then be approved by the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy, submitted to parliament and forwarded to NATO for consideration.
These arrangements, according to the newspaper, will speed up the process, avoid a parliamentary vote and bring the candidacy to NATO “at high speed.”
Finland, which shares a border with Russia, and Sweden, both EU members, have so far opted to stay out of NATO and maintain a neutral status.
Recent polls in both countries, however, reveal that the Russian military offensive in Ukraine has changed public opinion, with more respondents backing the idea of NATO membership than in recent years. The changes prompted Stockholm and Helsinki to reconsider their non-alignment policies.
Earlier media reports suggested that Sweden and Finland planned to simultaneously submit applications for NATO membership in mid-May. The Swedish parliament is currently reviewing its security policy.
At the beginning of April, the head of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, told NATO “will warmly welcome“Finland and Sweden if they apply to join, and are ready to take a decision on joining”fast enough.”
“very actively“to offer Helsinki”diplomatic and security assistancefor the duration of the application process.
Russia sees further NATO enlargement as a direct threat to its own national security, and “for the entire security architecture.Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned in April that Moscow “take further action“make his defenses on the western flank”more sophisticatedif Finland and Sweden join the bloc.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, after its failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Accords, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Minsk Protocol, brokered by Germany and France, was designed to give 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 the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.