Finland expected to launch Nato membership bid

Finland is expected to announce its intention to join Nato on Thursday with Sweden likely to follow soon after, diplomats and officials have said, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reshapes European security and the Atlantic military alliance.

Nato allies expect Finland and Sweden to be granted membership quickly, five diplomats and officials told Reuters, paving the way for increased troop presence in the Nordic region during the one-year ratification period.

In the lead-up to their Nato accession, British prime minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday promised to defend Sweden and Finland against potential Russian threats as he travelled to both countries to sign mutual security agreements.

In the wider Nordic region, Norway, Denmark and the three Baltic states are already Nato members, and the addition of Finland and Sweden would probably anger Moscow, which says enlargement of the organisation is a direct threat to its own security.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has cited the issue as a reason for his actions in Ukraine, which has also expressed a desire to eventually join the alliance. Moscow has also repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining the alliance, threatening “serious military and political consequences”.

Asked on Wednesday if Finland would provoke Russia by joining Nato, president Sauli Niinistö said Putin would be to blame. “My response would be that you caused this. Look at the mirror,” Niinisto said.

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