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Finland must apply to join NATO ‘without delay’: Finnish leaders

Finnish leaders announce a significant policy shift triggered by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have announced that Finland must apply to join the NATO military alliance “without delay”.

The policy shift triggered by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine was announced on Thursday, three days before neighbouring Sweden is expected to follow suit.

Finland, which shares a 1,300km (810 mile) border and a difficult past with Russia, has gradually stepped up its cooperation with NATO as a partner since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.

But until Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, the Nordic country had refrained from joining in order to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbour.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.

“We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken

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