Helsinki cathedral and skyline at dusk with presidential palace illuminated (Picture: nobleIMAGES Alamy Stock Photo).
NATO

Finnish leaders firm on country's right to join NATO

The country's president and prime minister both used New Year messages to reiterate the country's right to join the military alliance.

Helsinki cathedral and skyline at dusk with presidential palace illuminated (Picture: nobleIMAGES Alamy Stock Photo).

Finland's president used his New Year address to reiterate his country’s right to join NATO if it wishes to.

The Nordic nation, which directly borders Russia, has never been part of the military alliance, but it does co-operate closely with it.

President Sauli Niinistö said Finland has freedom of choice.

That point was also made by the country's Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who said: "We retain the option of applying for NATO membership.

"We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country's right to decide on its own security policies.

"We will not let go of our room for manoeuvre."

Around 100,000 Russian troops are reportedly massed alongside the border with Ukraine. 

President Putin wants assurances that Ukraine and former Soviet countries won’t be allowed to join NATO.

President Biden has warned of grave consequences if Russia uses it troops to invade Ukraine. 

The US and Russia are set to meet in Geneva in less than two weeks to try and calm tensions.