Russia’s neighbor Finland announces its intention to join NATO

BERLIN (AP) — A senior NATO official said on Sunday that Russia’s military advance in Ukraine seems to be wavering and expressed hope that Kiev can win the war, as Russia’s neighbor Finland announced its intention to join the Western military alliance.

Top NATO diplomats will meet in Berlin on Sunday to discuss continued support for Ukraine and steps by Finland, Sweden and others to join NATO in the face of threats from Russia.

“The brutal invasion (by) Russia is losing momentum,” NATO deputy secretary general Mircea Geoana told reporters. “We know that with the courage of the Ukrainian people and army, and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”

Finland’s president and government announced on Sunday that the previously neutral Scandinavian country that shares a long border with Russia plans to join NATO, paving the way for the expansion of the 30-strong Western military alliance.

President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

“This is a historic day. A new era is beginning,” Niinisto said.

The Finnish parliament is expected to approve the decision in the coming days, but it is considered a formality.

A formal application for membership will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely sometime next week.

Geoana, who chaired the meeting as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recovers from a COVID-19 infection, said Ukraine’s supporters were “united, we are strong, will continue to help Ukraine win this war.”

An important topic discussed in Berlin is the extension of NATO beyond the current 30 member states.

Sweden has already taken steps toward joining the alliance, while Georgia’s bid is being discussed again despite serious warnings from Moscow about the consequences if its neighbor joins NATO.

“Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest partners,” Geoana said, adding that he expected allies to consider their applications positively.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country and others made it clear at a dinner late Saturday that they would be ready to accelerate the national ratification process for Finland and Sweden.

“If these two countries decide to join, they could join very soon,” she said.

The Danish Foreign Minister rejected suggestions that objections from Russian President Vladimir Putin could prevent the alliance from admitting new members.

“Every European country has a fundamental right to choose its own security regime,” Jeppe Kofod told reporters.

“We are now seeing a world where the enemy of democracy number one is Putin and the thinking he represents,” he said, adding that NATO would also stand alongside other countries, such as Georgia, which he said Russia had created. were “instrumented”. †

On the sidelines of the meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba earlier Sunday to discuss the impact of the war and how to bring Ukraine’s grain to international markets.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken “underscored the United States’ continued commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in light of Russia’s unprovoked war.”

Britain’s top diplomat said NATO members would also discuss security issues outside of Europe during their meeting on Sunday – a reference to growing unease among democratic nations over China’s rise.

“In addition to protecting Euro-Atlantic security, we also need to watch out for the security of the Indo-Pacific,” said Secretary of State Liz Truss.

The meeting this week follows a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven Leading Economies on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast. Officials there expressed strong support for Ukraine and warned that Russia’s blockade of grain exports from Ukrainian ports could spark a global food crisis.

Tanner reported from Helsinki. AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed from Berlin.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at

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