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Ukraine news — live: Finland joining Nato a ‘threat’ to Russia, Kremlin says

By Maryam Zakir-Hussain and Arpan Rai
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
From neutral to Nato: Finland announces bid to join alliance

The Kremlin has threatened to take “retaliatory steps” if Finland joins Nato, following Helsinki’s announcement that it wants to join the alliance.

Finland’s president and prime minister said on Thursday that they are in favour of applying for Nato membership.

In a joint statement, president Sauli Niinisto and prime minister Sanna Marin said: “As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance.”

“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,” they added.

In a press conference this morning, Mr Niinisto blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin for Finland’s decision, saying: “You caused this. Look in the mirror.”

Meanwhile, Finnish MP Elina Valtonen said her country is ready to defend itself if Russia responds aggressively to Finland’s bid to join Nato.

Sweden is also expected to become a member of the alliance, with the country’s foreign minister saying: “Finland is Sweden’s closest security & defence partner, and we need to take Finland’s assessments into account.”

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