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Finnish MPs vote overwhelmingly in favour of NATO membership

As a deterrent against Russian aggression

17 May, 15:53
(ANSA-AFP) - HELSINKI, MAY 17 - Lawmakers in Finland voted overwhelmingly in favour Tuesday of joining NATO as a deterrent against Russian aggression, paving the way for a joint application with Sweden to be submitted in the coming days.

After a marathon debate lasting a day-and-a-half, 188 of 200 members of parliament voted in favour of NATO membership, a dramatic turnaround from Finland's military non-alignment policy dating back more than 75 years. "Tonight, we will sign the application letter for NATO", Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told public broadcaster YLE. "Then possibly tomorrow, together with Sweden, the Finnish ambassador to NATO will submit the letter to NATO", he said. Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, has been rattled by Russia's invasion of another neighbour, Ukraine. "Our security environment has fundamentally changed," Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told parliament on Monday at the start of the debate. "The only country that threatens European security, and is now openly waging a war of aggression, is Russia", she said. (ANSA-AFP).

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