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Finland and Sweden move closer to Nato membership

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement on Sunday (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtiuva via AP)
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement on Sunday (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtiuva via AP)

Finland’s president and government have announced the Nordic country intends to apply for membership of Nato, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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

Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has previously been a neutral country.

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

Sauli Niinisto
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto described it has a ‘historic day’ (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtiuva via AP)

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.

Sweden also moved a step closer to applying for NATO membership after the governing Social Democratic party backed joining the trans-Atlantic alliance.

“At its meeting today, the Social Democrats’ party board has decided that the party will work for Sweden to apply for membership in NATO,” the party said in a statement.

The plan to join the alliance will be discussed in Sweden’s parliament on Monday, and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Cabinet will make an announce later that day.

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