The President and Prime Minister of Finland announced on Sunday, May 15, the final decision: the country is applying to join NATO.
They announced this at a specially convened press conference.
President Sauli Niinistö made an official announcement in Finnish, Swedish, and English. According to Niinistö, this "maximizes" the country's security.
"This is a historic day," the Finnish edition of Yle cites the President as saying.
The decision was made at a joint meeting of the country's President and the government Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.
"The report will be submitted to Parliament once it has been endorsed in the government plenary session. In the meeting it was noted that Finland would apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after Parliament has been heard," the government’s statement reads.
The head of state stressed that this decision was supported by the government, and the MPs assured that they would vote for accession. Voting is expected to be held on May 16. And the country must submit the application on Wednesday, May 18, according to media reports.
NATO expansion. Kremlin is warned and frustrated
The day before, the President of Finland personally announced his intention to join NATO and warned that the application for joining NATO would be submitted at an early date.
"The conversation was direct and straightforward, without escalation," President Niinistö said.
The Kremlin's answer was not long in coming — the head of Russia immediately stated that Finland's decision to join NATO was a mistake.
"Putin stressed that it would be a mistake to abandon the traditional policy of military neutrality, since there are no threats to the security of Finland," the Kremlin’s statement reads.
Putin also said that a change in foreign policy could have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which, according to the Kremlin, "for many years were built in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership cooperation and were of a mutually beneficial nature."
The UK has signed an agreement with Sweden and Finland on mutual security guarantees. In case of an attack, the UK will provide any assistance.
After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the level of support for the idea of joining NATO among the inhabitants of Finland, which had previously amounted to a few percent, increased tenfold. This was evidenced by opinion polls conducted in March.
Finland and Russia have a common land border of about 1,200 kilometers.
It is expected that together with Finland, Sweden may also submit an application for joining NATO in the coming days.