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Finnish President makes first public statement about desire to join NATO

Finland’s leader is expected to say publicly for the first time that his country wants to join NATO after the Nordic country and Sweden signed security pacts with the UK.

The BBC said the expected announcement – the first step towards joining the military alliance – by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was prompted by a sharp rise in public support for NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It comes after Boris Johnson signed agreements on Wednesday that would see British troops deployed to the two northern European nations in the event of a Russian incursion by “21st century tyrant” Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister said the parallel deals would help defend each country should it be threatened as he met with leaders from both nations for 24 hours over a hurricane on Wednesday.

Mr Johnson said the UK would come to Finland’s aid, including with military support, should the country be attacked.

Asked during a press conference in Helsinki alongside Mr Niinisto whether there would be “British footsteps” on Finnish territory during a “possible conflict with Russia”, he said: “I think the solemn declaration in itself is clear.

Boris Johnson says Britain would come to Finland’s aid if the country were attacked, including with military support (Frank Augstein/PA)

(PA wire)

“And it says that in the event of a disaster or an attack on one of us, we will support each other, including with military help.

“But the nature of that support will of course depend on the request of the other party.

“But it should also be the basis for an intensification of our security and defense relations in other respects.”

(PA graphic)

(PA graphic)

In a previous meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Mr Johnson said Britain would “not hesitate” to act in the event of an attack on the country.

The British Prime Minister said it was “a sad irony” that the Security Assurance Statement was signed days after VE Day but was more relevant than ever in the “dark circumstances” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Speaking to his Swedish counterpart at their rural retreat in Harpsund on Wednesday, he added: “The many carcasses of Russian tanks now littering the fields and roads of Ukraine thanks to Swedish-designed and British-built NLaws ( anti-tank weapons) certainly speak for how effective this cooperation can be.

“Most importantly, this is an agreement that enshrines the values ​​that both Sweden and Britain hold dear and which we will have no hesitation in defending.”

Mr Johnson, who used some of his strongest words yet to condemn the Russian President, told a press conference: “This week many of us paid tribute to the brave men and women who secured victory and peace in Europe 77 years ago.

“So it’s a sad irony that we’ve been forced to debate how best to strengthen our collective defenses against the empty conceit of a 21st-century tyrant.”

Ms Andersson said she was “very happy” with the signing of the bilateral agreement, while Mr Niinisto said the declaration will “deepen the cooperation that already exists”.

Given Mr Putin’s continued military aggression, both European countries are considering the prospect of NATO membership.

After signing the pact, Mr Niinisto said he did not see joining the military alliance as a “zero-sum game”.

“Joining NATO would be against no one,” said the Finnish President.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/boris-johnson-sauli-niinisto-sweden-nato-russia-b2077165.html Finnish President makes first public statement about desire to join NATO

Bobby Allyn

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