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Finland's NATO entry is direct result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine: Stoltenberg

04.04.2023 13:00
Finland's accession to NATO is a direct result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens StoltenbergPhoto: EPA/OLIVIER MATTHYS

Speaking ahead of a ceremony in Brussels to welcome Finland as the 31st member of the Western military alliance, Stoltenberg said"Today is a historic day because in a few hours we will welcome Finland as the 31st member of our alliance. This will make Finland safer and NATO stronger."

He added: "And on this very day, in 1949, the Washington Treaty, NATO’s founding treaty was signed in Washington. And it is hard to imagine a better way of celebrating our anniversary than to have Finland becoming a full member of the alliance."

Stoltenberg told reporters that Russian President Vladimir Putin "had as a declared goal of the invasion of Ukraine to get less NATO," but "he is getting exactly the opposite ... Finland today, and soon also Sweden will become a full fledged member of the alliance."

The last obstacle to Finland's accession was removed last week when the Turkish parliament voted to ratify Finland's application, according to news outlets.

Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Finland's NATO entry and the alliance's move to increase its own combat readiness increased the risk of conflict, the Reuters news agency reported.

Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted on Tuesday: "NATO may be 74, but surely it feels 31. Welcome Finland. Ei koskaan enää yksin - never alone again. We are stronger together. Poland hopes for a swift accession of Sweden to NATO."

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a post: "From today, the alliance is made up of 31 countries. Strong partners provide a guarantee of security for Poland, our region and the whole world.

The Polish Prime Minister's Office congratulated Finland on joining the alliance. "Poland warmly welcomes Finland as a member of NATO," it said in a tweet.

Stoltenberg said on Monday that it was “a priority for NATO" and for him to ensure that Sweden joined “as soon as possible.” 

He added that NATO and Swedish officials were working to bring Sweden closer to the alliance’s “military and civilian structures” while waiting for the country’s membership to be finalised, according to news outlets.

Sweden’s bid to join NATO has been held up by Turkey and Hungary, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Tuesday is day 405 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, nato.int