Finland took a landmark decision on Thursday to apply to join Nato in a further sign of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine backfiring spectacularly.
Finland PM Sanna Marin and Japan PM Fumio Kishida at a joint press announcement, in Tokyo
The Russian president ordered his troops into Ukraine amid claims it could join Nato and pose a risk to Russia.
But his invasion has sparked a major shake-up of Europe’s security architecture, with Finland now moving to join Nato, and Sweden expected to follow suit.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement that their country should submit an application to join the military alliance.
“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,” Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement. “Nato membership would strengthen Finland’s security.”
“As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” they said. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 mile) border and a difficult past with Russia, has previously remained outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbour.
The announcement came just a day after Boris Johnson visited Finland and Sweden to sign new security pacts with them.
On his Nordic trip, the Prime Minister warned Mr Putin that if his troops attacked Finland or Sweden that Britain would come to their defence with military assistance.
He signed a mutual security assurance with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Sweden and a similar security declaration with President Niinisto in Finland.
As part of the boosted defence co-operation, he offered to increase deployments to the Nordic region, including with Royal Air Force, Army and Royal Navy assets and personnel.
The UK is also proposing to intensifying intelligence sharing, increase joint military training, exercising and deployments, and work more closely together on hybrid and cyber threats, as part of moves to step up security in northern Europe.
Mr Johnson said on Thursday he did not see how there could be a normalisation of relations with Mr Putin following his invasion of Ukraine.
Asked during an interview on LBC Radio whether the Russian president could be welcomed back on the global stage if he were to repent, Johnson said: “Repentance is going to be very difficult for Vladimir Putin now ... nothing is impossible, I suppose, but I just cannot see for the life of me how we can renormalise relations with Putin now.”
Mr Johnson stressed that the world would risk a repeat of 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, if it now tried to bring back Mr Putin into the international fold.
“The world basically said, this is appalling. We condemn it, we denounce it -- and we did. And we put on sanctions. But at the same time, we kind of opened negotiations with him about a way forward,” he said.
“And Putin basically used that as a way of twisting the knife in Ukraine.
“If the Ukrainians were to do any kind of deal with Putin now, the risk is that he would do exactly the same thing and they know it. So the short answer is no. No renormalisation and the UK is very clear about that.”