NATO chief says Finland welcome to join allies
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday that Finland, a 30-member U.S. alliance member, would welcome a request for membership in Finland in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s Foreign Minister, stated Thursday that her country shares a border of 1,300 kilometers with Russia and would soon make clear the next steps regarding the possibility it might apply for NATO membership.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, local media reported that Finland has shown a new record in support of NATO membership.
CNBC’s Hadley Gamble interviewed NATO’s Stoltenberg on Friday. He stated that Finland’s decision to join NATO was “directly a result” of Russia’s February 24 invasion of neighboring Russia.
Stoltenberg stated, “The message from NATO is to me that Finland must decide.”
“We will respect the decision regardless of what the conclusion will be, but if Finland decides to apply for membership, I am confident that NATO allies will warmly welcome them — and we can quite quickly make the decision to have them as a member of the allies,” he added.
Sweden indicated it was open to reconsidering the non-alignment strategy in response to the rise in NATO membership support. Since March, a slew of opinion polls have been published in Sweden showing that almost half support joining NATO.
Stoltenberg’s comment comes shortly after the two-day NATO Headquarters meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Russia will continue to participate. Redeploying forces in eastern Ukraine
The Kremlin may be preparing an offensive in Donbas in the next days.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, demanded that the military alliance provide more weapons for Kyiv to counter Russian forces on Thursday.
Kuleba warned about more atrocities such as those in Bucha and demanded that Ukraine be supported quickly with additional military assistance. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but it has received support from the alliance since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 — and many member states have already supplied Kyiv with weapons.
There are concerns that Ukraine could be supplied with heavier weapons and offensive equipment, including tanks and fighter planes, which could spark a conflict between Russia, NATO and Ukraine.
Kuleba spoke out ahead of the Thursday ministerial meeting, saying: “My agenda has three items. It has only three items. There are weapons, weapons, weaponry, and more weapons. He said that any resistance by the Ukrainian forces in recent weeks will be met with “enormous losses” if NATO does not provide more support.
NATO’s Stoltenberg declined Friday to discuss the types of weapons to be supplied to Ukraine. He cited “operational reasons”. He said that the alliance will supply Kyiv with “a wide range” of older weapons as well as more recent-era weapons.
Stoltenberg stated that NATO allies recognize the urgency of providing additional support for Ukraine.