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.”
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.