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Finland’s Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Tytti Tuppurainen talks to the media ahead of the EU’s General Affairs Council in Brussels, Belgium, February 22. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Finland is “very likely” to apply for NATO membership, Finland’s European Affairs Minister said.

Speaking to CNN on Monday, Tytti Tuppurainen said the decision has yet to be made, but called the nation’s likely joining a “very natural response” to Russia’s war in Ukraine. She added that if her country does apply, she hopes “the ratification process will be as short as possible”.

“We would, of course, prefer to have a neighborhood that was built on friendship and cooperation,” she said. “But it was Russia that walked away from the security order and it was Russia that started the war in Europe. It was Russia that invaded Ukraine. Now people are seeing this new reality and the time has come to join NATO.

On Thursday, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is expected to give his personal opinion on whether to pursue NATO membership, which is expected to be followed by a statement from Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Imminent decision: Tuppurainen told CNN that most political parties in the country have already discussed the issue. The Social Democrats – the party of Marin and Tuppurainen – will meet on Saturday to make their decision, which will be guided by Marin’s announcement.

“Now that the leader of the country is about to take the decision regarding the NATO candidacy, we can say with good arguments that the whole country is ready for it,” Tuppurainen said, noting the strong public support in Finland to join the defensive alliance. .

Message to Moscow: Russia has warned it will react if Finland – with which it shares a border of more than 800 miles – joins NATO.

The Kremlin does not dictate our decisions,” Tuppurainen told CNN, adding that it would be “in Russia’s best interest to behave like an adult in this situation.”

“We have now seen what kind of country Russia is and what kind of regime it has. It has a ruthless dictator as its leader,” she said. “We no longer have any illusions about what he’s up to…and now we know he can wage a war as despicable, ruthless and brutal as imaginable.”

Finland is a longtime NATO partner, which U.S. and NATO officials have underscored when expressing support for the nation’s membership if it chooses to apply.

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Peggy P. Gilmore