Finland will decide within “weeks” whether to apply to join Nato, its prime minister said, as Sweden also edged closer to membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland’s government on Wednesday set out its assessment of the country’s changed security environment since Moscow attacked Ukraine, with the war sending shockwaves across Europe.
Polling has shown a large majority of Finns now believe the country should apply to join the military alliance.
Nato officials have signalled that Finland and neighbouring Sweden would be welcomed into the 30-member alliance if they applied.
A decision by the two Nordic nations to join the US-led alliance would mark a fundamental reordering of Europe’s security architecture, extending Nato’s direct border with Russia and inflaming heightened tensions with Moscow, which has warned it would be forced to “rebalance the situation” should Finland and Sweden make a decision to join Nato. “There are different perspectives to apply [for] Nato membership or not to apply and we have to analyse these very carefully,” Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin told reporters on Wednesday. “But I think our process will be quite fast; it will happen in weeks,” Marin said at a joint press conference with Magdalena Andersson, her Swedish counterpart.
The Finnish parliament will start to debate the country’s security situation next week. Marin said it would make sense for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance together.
“If you ask me, I would prefer if we made similar choices for the whole region, but it is up to Sweden to decide,” she said. Marin said on Wednesday that there were “many kind of risks involved [with applying], also in the period where we are thinking about the choices we can make . . . we have to be prepared for all kinds of actions from Russia”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned this week that Finnish and Swedish Nato membership would “not bring additional security to the European continent”.
Andersson cautioned against her own country rushing into a decision but did not deny a report on Wednesday in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that she would support a June application to Nato.
“This is a very important time in our history. There is a before and after [the Russian invasion],” Andersson said.
“We have to really think through what is really best for Sweden and our security and peace in this situation . . . we need to have a process to think this through.”