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Finland leaders announce intention to join Nato

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F

inland took a landmark decision on Thursday to apply to join Nato in a further sign of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine backfiring spectacularly.

The Russian president ordered his troops into Ukraine amid claims it could join Nato and pose a risk to Russia.

But his invasion has sparked a major shake-up of Europe’s security architecture, with Finland now moving to join Nato, and Sweden expected to follow suit.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement that their country should submit an application to join the military alliance.

“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement. “Nato membership would strengthen Finland’s security.”

“As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” they said. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 mile) border and a difficult past with Russia, has previously remained outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbour.

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