Finland’s president tells Putin his country will apply to join NATO

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Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Saturday that the country plans to apply for NATO membership in the coming days.

In a statement, Niinisto’s office said it had highlighted how Russian demands late last year to prevent countries from joining NATO had “changed Finland’s security environment. “.

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“The conversation was direct and direct and it passed without escalation,” Niinisto said in a statement. “Avoiding tensions was considered important.”

The Kremlin press service said in a statement that Putin responded that Finland’s abandonment “of its traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake because there is no threat to Finland’s security.”

“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations, which have been built in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership for many years, and are mutually beneficial,” the statement added.

FILE - Finnish President Sauli Niinisto makes a point during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
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FILE – Finnish President Sauli Niinisto makes a point during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, pool, file)

Niinisto’s office pointed out that he had already told Putin in 2012 that every independent nation maximizes its security.

“That’s what’s happening now too,” he said. “By joining NATO, Finland strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibilities. It is not alienated from anyone else.”

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Niinisto noted that he reiterated his “deep concern” over Russia’s attack on Ukraine and “stressed the imperative for peace.”

“He also conveyed the messages on securing the evacuation of civilians issued earlier in the same week by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” the office said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the board of the Educational Foundation for Talent and Success via video conference at the Sirius Educational Center for Gifted Children in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the board of the Educational Foundation for Talent and Success via video conference at the Sirius Educational Center for Gifted Children in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
(Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool photo via AP)

Furthermore, the leader of the militarily non-aligned Nordic country said Finland “wants to deal with the practical issues arising from being a neighbor of Russia in a proper and professional manner.”

Finland shares an 830 mile border with Russia.

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On Thursday, the Kremlin called Finland’s efforts to join NATO a “threat to Russia”.

An official announcement from Niinisto and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is expected on Sunday.

The phone call was initiated by Finland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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