Finnish President, Prime Minister Confirm NATO Membership Bid Despite Russian Warnings

NATO
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

BERLIN (AP) – A senior NATO official said Sunday that Russia’s military advance in Ukraine appears to be faltering and he expressed hope that Kyiv can win the war, as Russia’s neighbour Finland announced it wants to join the Western military alliance.

Top NATO diplomats are meeting Sunday in Berlin to discuss providing further support to Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden, and others to join NATO in the face of threats from Russia.

The President and Government of Finland announced Sunday that the previously neutral Nordic country that shares a long border with Russia intends to apply for membership in NATO, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand.

President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

“This is a historic day. A new era begins,” Niinisto said.

The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in coming days, but it is considered a formality.

A formal membership application will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely at some point next week.

Geoana, who was chairing the meeting while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recovers from a COVID-19 infection, said Ukraine’s supporters were “united, we are strong, will continue to help Ukraine in winning this war.”

On the sidelines of the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met earlier Sunday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the impact of the war and how to get Ukraine’s grain to international markets.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken “underscored the United States’ enduring commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war.”

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