BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Finland will become the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance on Tuesday, and from Russia if NATO deploys troops to defend near the joint border. warned to strengthen the new member.
“This is a historic week,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels. “From tomorrow, Finland will be a full member of the alliance.” He said he hopes Sweden will be able to join NATO in the coming months.
The former Norwegian Prime Minister said on Tuesday afternoon, “I will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at NATO headquarters. It will be a good day for Finnish security, Nordic security and NATO as a whole.”
Stoltenberg said Turkey, the last country to ratify Finland’s membership, will hand over the official text to US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken on Tuesday. Stoltenberg said he would invite Finland to do the same.
The ceremony will be attended by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“This is a historic moment for us. For Finland, the most important purpose of the meeting is to highlight NATO’s support for Ukraine as Russia continues its illegal aggression,” Haavist said in a statement. “We aim to promote stability and security across the Euro-Atlantic region.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Glushko said Russia would respond to Finland’s membership of NATO by strengthening its defenses if necessary.
“We will strengthen our military forces in the west and northwest,” Mr. Glushko said in a statement quoted by the state news agency Novosti. “We will take additional measures to ensure Russia’s military security in the event that troops of other NATO members are deployed on Finnish territory.”
The announcement of Finland’s accession comes just after Finnish voters backed conservatives in weekend elections, usurping left-leaning Prime Minister Sanna Marin for another term. Marin supported her country’s NATO membership.
Fearing that they would be targeted after Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, Nordic neighbors Finland and Sweden sought protection under the NATO security umbrella by mobilizing military forces. abandoned its traditional position of non-alignment.
All 30 allies have signed the Finnish and Swedish Accession Protocols. Turkey and Hungary delayed the process for months, but Finland showed no mercy. Turkey has sought assurances and guarantees from the two countries, especially regarding its tackling extremism. Hungary’s demands are by no means clear.
NATO must unanimously agree for new members to join. NATO officials are also keen to keep Sweden in the pen ahead of a July 11-12 meeting between US President Joe Biden and his allied counterparts in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. is.
“Sweden is not left alone. Sweden is getting as close as possible as a full member state,” Stoltenberg said.
Jari Tanner from Helsinki contributed to this report.
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