Finland to apply for Nato membership: president, prime minister

Finland will apply for Nato membership, the Nordic country's president and prime minister announced on Sunday, a direct result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Flag of Finland. Picture: Wikipedia.

HELSINKI - Finland will apply for Nato membership, the Nordic country's president and prime minister announced Sunday, as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Today, the President of the Republic and the Government's Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for Nato membership, after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening", President Sauli Niinisto said.

As the next step, the Finnish parliament will convene on Monday to debate the decision, with current projections showing a large majority of the country’s 200 member parliament supporting the bid.

"We have reached today an important decision in good cooperation with the government and the president of the republic. We hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for the Nato membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate", Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.

Sharing a 1,300 kilometre border with Russia, Finland has remained militarily non-aligned for 75 years.

But after its powerful eastern neighbour invaded Ukraine in February, political and public opinion swung dramatically in favour of membership, with the Finnish president and prime minister on Thursday calling for the country to join Nato "without delay".

Russia has repeatedly warned of consequences if Helsinki joins the alliance.

Earlier this week, Niinisto told reporters that "joining Nato would not be against anyone."

He said his response to Russia would be: "You caused this. Look in the mirror."