Finland officially joins NATO – world braces for Putins response

Nato secretary general welcomes ‘historic day’ for alliance as Finland prepares to join

Finland has joined NATO in a major blow to Vladimir Putin. The country has become the 31st member of the military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland’s accession effectively means that if it is attacked, all NATO members would come to its aid.

Sweden is also seeking to join the military alliance but objections from Turkey and Hungary have delayed the process.

The Kremlin today warned of “counter measures” as Finland became the newest member of the defence alliance.

The move marks a historic shift after Helsinki adopted neutrality following its defeat by the Soviets in World War Two.

But the country signalled it wanted to join the military alliance in May 2022, just months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The move is a strategic and political blow to the Russian President, who has long complained about NATO’s expansion.

Russia’s border with member states has now doubled following Finland’s accession.

But the defence alliance insists it poses no threat to Moscow.

Rishi Sunak welcomed Finland becoming the newest member of NATO.

The Prime Minister said: “This is an historic day for Finland and for NATO. Their accession has made our alliance stronger and every one of us safer.

“All NATO members now need to take the steps necessary to admit Sweden too, so we can stand together as one alliance to defend freedom in Europe and across the world.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “This will make Finland safer and NATO stronger.

“President Putin had a declared goal of the invasion of Nato to get less Nato along its borders and no more membership in Europe, he’s getting exactly the opposite.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed Finland joining NATO as a “historic day”.

He said: “I’m tempted to say this is maybe the one thing we can thank Mr Putin for, because he once again here has precipitated something he claims to want to prevent by Russia’s aggression.

But Moscow warned of “counter measures” following Helsinki’s accession to NATO.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: “The Kremlin believes that this is the latest aggravation of the situation.

“And this forces us to take countermeasures… in tactical and strategic terms.”

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