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Finland’s president tells Putin: We will apply to join Nato

By By Jari Tanner, Associated Press
Sauli Niinisto (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool, File)

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has told Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a long border with Russia “will decide to apply for Nato membership in the coming days”.

Mr Niinisto’s office said in a statement that he told the Russian president in a phone conversation how Finland’s security environment had changed after Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, and pointed to Moscow’s demands for Finland to refrain from seeking membership in the 30-member western military alliance.

“The discussion (with Putin) was straightforward and unambiguous and was held without exaggeration. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” said Mr Niinisto, Finland’s president since 2012 and one of few western leaders who has held regular dialogue with Mr Putin over the past 10 years.

Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)

He pointed out that he told Mr Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that “each independent nation would maximise its own security”.

“That is still the case. By joining Nato, Finland will strengthen its own security and assume its responsibilities. It is not something away from anybody,” Mr Niinisto said.

He stressed that Finland, despite its likely membership of Nato, wants to continue to deal with Russia bilaterally in “practical issues generated by the border neighbourhood” and hopes to engage with Moscow “in a professional manner”.

The phone call was conducted on Finland’s initiative, Mr Niinisto’s office said. The statement did not disclose any comments from Mr Putin or the Kremlin on the conversation.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, the longest of any European Union member.

(PA Graphics)

Mr Niinisto and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday jointly endorsed the country’s Nato bid and recommended that the country “must apply for Nato membership without delay” to guarantee the nation’s security amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s changed geopolitical and security landscape.

A formal announcement from Mr Niinisto and Ms Marin that Finland intends to apply for Nato membership is expected on Sunday, a day after the likely endorsement by Ms Marin’s governing Social Democratic Party.

Neighbouring Sweden is set to decide on its Nato stance on Sunday in a meeting of the governing Social Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

US President Joe Biden held a joint call on Friday with Mr Niinisto and Ms Andersson during which, according to the White House, he “underscored his support for Nato’s Open Door policy and for the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their own future, foreign policy and security arrangements”.

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Dive Deeper:
Finland’s president tells Vladimir Putin: We will apply to join Nato
Mr Putin told his Finnish counterpart that ditching neutrality and joining Nato would be a ‘mistake’
Finland's president to Putin: we will apply to join NATO
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has informed his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a…
Vladimir Putin warns Finland joining NATO is a 'mistake' and will be 'security threat'
The two countries said their presidents spoke by phone two days after Finland declared its intention to join NATO with…
Putin tells Finland that swapping neutrality for NATO is a mistake
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Saturday that ditching neutrality and joining NATO would be…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Finnish president confirms country will apply to join NATO
Finland's President Sauli Niinisto confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for membership of the NATO military alliance, in…
Sweden to follow Finland in applying to join Nato after governing party drops opposition
‘Historic’ move announced hours after neighbour Finland said it intends to apply to join bloc
Get all your news in one place