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NATO Chief: Finland’s entry to alliance will be ‘smooth and swift’

In this photo from October 25, 2021, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (L) meets with Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin during the The North Atlantic Council's (NAC) visit in Helsinki. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/AFP)
In this photo from October 25, 2021, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (L) meets with Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin during the The North Atlantic Council's (NAC) visit in Helsinki. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/AFP)

BRUSSELS — NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomes a decision by Finland’s leaders to back joining the alliance, and says the eventual membership process would be “smooth and swift.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin expressed support for NATO membership — in defiance of warnings from Moscow — and a formal statement on joining is expected on Sunday.

“This is a sovereign decision by Finland, which NATO fully respects,” Stoltenberg says.

“Should Finland decide to apply, they would be warmly welcomed into NATO, and the accession process would be smooth and swift.”

Finland and Sweden have taken steps towards joining the alliance since Western powers began reviewing their security structures in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin denounced the idea that Finland, its neighbor, would join NATO.

“The expansion of NATO and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

Helsinki insists its decision is not a threat to anyone.

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