Russia has threatened Finland with a ‘military-technical’ response after its leaders announced their desire to join NATO ‘without delay’ under the influence of the war in Ukraine, while tension mounted around deliveries of Russian gas to Europe.
NATO countries are ready to provide military aid to Ukraine, attacked by Russia, for as long as necessary, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock assured on Sunday.
“We agree not to relax our national efforts, especially in terms of military assistance, and that we will not do so as long as Ukraine needs this assistance for the self-defense of its country”, declared the Minister after an informal meeting of the Atlantic Alliance in Berlin.
Ukraine “can win” the war against Russia, which “is not going” as Moscow had planned, said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, on Sunday.
“Its major offensive in the Donbass is at a standstill, Russia is not achieving its strategic objectives”, he judged after an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers, assuring that kyiv “can win” this war.
The announced candidacy of Finland and Sweden to NATO is proof that “aggression does not pay”, assured Sunday the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.
“It would be a historic moment” if the two Nordic countries officially asked to join NATO, he said after an informal meeting of the organization’s foreign ministers in Berlin. “Their membership would strengthen our common security, would demonstrate that NATO’s door is open and that aggression does not pay,” he added.
Finland announced its “historic” candidacy for NATO on Sunday, before a decisive meeting in Sweden with a view to a probable simultaneous application for membership by the two countries, a direct consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Finnish president and a government council “have jointly decided that Finland is going to ask to become a member of NATO”, declared the head of state Sauli Niinistö. “It’s a historic day. A new era is dawning,” he said at a press conference.
Despite last-minute hostility from Turkey, NATO member countries are “on the right track” to find a consensus on the integration of Finland and Sweden, judged the head of Croatian diplomacy Gordan Grlic Radman , Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting of ministers of the alliance in Berlin.
Ukraine is preparing for decisive battles in the Donbass, with Kyiv confident of winning after Russian setbacks on the front lines.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said on Sunday that the triumph of the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra on Saturday evening in Turin (Italy) at Eurovision shows “the immense public support” enjoyed by Ukraine attacked by the Russia.
Finland must formalize its candidacy for NATO this Sunday, before a decisive meeting of the ruling party in Sweden with a view to a probable joint application for membership of the two countries. “We hope to be able to send our applications this week, together with Sweden. They have their own process but I hope we will make the decisions at the same time,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Saturday.
Less than three months after the start of the war in Ukraine, the two countries are preparing to turn the page on military non-alignments dating back more than 75 years in Finland and dating back to the 19th century in Sweden.
Russian pressure remains strong in eastern Ukraine, by kyiv’s own admission, confident of winning after Russian setbacks on the battlefield, and accompanied by a victory at Eurovision giving balm in the heart of the country at war. “The situation in the Donbass remains very difficult. Russian troops are trying to achieve at least one victory there,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on Saturday. “Little by little, we are forcing the occupiers to leave our lands.”
Russian forces are trying to advance in this strategic region in the east, partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and which Moscow has made its main objective since the withdrawal of its troops from around kyiv at the end of March.