Finland has formally confirmed its intention to join NATO, abandoning decades of military non-alignment in a historic decision brought about by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Finland is applying to join NATO, President Sauli Niinistö said at a press conference noting that a secure Finland is born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the proposal will now be sent to Parliament for ratification.
With neighboring Sweden's ruling party also holding a pivotal meeting next week on whether to join the 30-member defense alliance, it looks likely to lead to NATO expansion.
Finland shares a 1,300 km border with Russia and, like Sweden, has maintained a strict policy of neutrality and non-alignment since the end of World War II, viewing NATO membership as a provocation by Moscow.
As AP notes, after ratification by the parliament, the official application for membership will be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely next week.
Sweden has already taken steps to join the alliance, and Georgia's candidacy is being discussed again, despite Moscow's warnings.
Finland and Sweden are already NATO's closest partners, said NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana in this regard, adding that he expects a positive attitude from the allies to their applications.