Finland is “highly likely” to apply for NATO membership, the country’s Minister of European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen told Sky News on Friday.
“At this point I would say it is highly likely, but a decision has not yet been made,” she said.
She claimed a “huge majority” of Finns wanted their country to sign onto the decades-old military alliance but said that the decision had not yet been made in parliament. Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer-long land border with Russia and, prior to 1917, was part of the Russian Empire, but it maintained a careful neutrality during the Cold War.
Tuppurainen referred to Russia’s Ukraine operation as a “wake up call” and said she hoped the process of Helsinki’s NATO accession to be “as swift as possible.”
Russia has demanded that Ukraine adopt an official policy of neutrality and vow never to join the Cold War-era military pact.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday that her country was reviewing the prospect of applying for membership in NATO, as was neighboring Sweden. At a joint press conference in Stockholm where they announced the move, her Swedish counterpart said Russia’s assault on Ukraine had “completely changed” the “security landscape” of Europe. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova argued on Friday that the two historically non-aligned countries would become platforms used by NATO to threaten Russia if they joined the US-led military bloc.