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Finland to apply for NATO membership

Putin told Niinisto that Finland's accession to NATO could have a negative impact on relations between Moscow and Helsinki.

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Helsinki: Finland will probably apply for NATO membership on Wednesday, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had an exchange of views with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, on Helsinki’s intention to apply for NATO membership in a telephone conversation initiated by Finland on Saturday.

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Putin told Niinisto that Finland’s accession to NATO could have a negative impact on relations between Moscow and Helsinki.

“It will be our NATO ambassador in Brussels who will do it physically, probably on Wednesday. Then, if negotiations with NATO begin, they will be handled by delegations led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense,” Haavisto was quoted as saying by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

Haavisto said that Finland is preparing for a possible Russian response to its actions, adding that he was satisfied with a similar process in Sweden.
In March, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will fast-track the membership applications of Finland and Sweden if they decide to join.

On Thursday, both Finland and Sweden officially confirmed their plans to join NATO. The United States and Germany have already pledged support to the Nordic states if they choose to apply for membership in the alliance.

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