Tue, 05 Jul 2022

Live: Finland formally confirms NATO membership bid

France24
15 May 2022, 22:08 GMT+10

The Finnish government officially announced Sunday its intention to join NATO while Sweden's ruling party holds a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application as the alliance military alliance heads for a historic enlargement prompted by Russia's war on Ukraine. Follow FRANCE 24's live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

1:23pm: Finland makes historic post-war policy shift from neutrality

At the Santahamina military base near Helsinki, the training programme for Finnish army reservists has taken on a new sense of urgency following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Finland on Sunday made a dramatic shift from its post-war neutrality policy by formally announcing its bid to apply for NATO membership. But not all Finnish citizens support the move.

1:05pm: Germany warns Ukraine war stoking global food crisis

At a G7 foreign ministers meeting in the northern German town of Weissenhaus, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was stoking a global food crisis. Here's a closer look at how supply and transportation chokes due to the war can affect food prices and hit particularly vulnerable countries such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia and many sub-Saharan African nations.

12:17pm: Finland's President Sauli Niinisto confirms his country will apply to join NATO

Finland's president and government announced Sunday that the Nordic country intends apply for membership in NATO, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand amid Russia's war in Ukraine.

President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

The Finnish Parliament is expected to endorse the decision in coming days, but it is considered a formality.

A formal membership application will then be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, most likely at the some point next week.

8:53am: Germany 'prepared' for quick ratification of Finnish, Swedish NATO bids

Germany has taken all preparations for a quick ratification process should Finland and Sweden decide to apply for NATO membership, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has told reporters on a second day of talks with her NATO counterparts in Berlin.

"Germany has prepared everything to do a quick ratification process," she said, adding that ministers had agreed at a dinner on Saturday that there should not be grey zone between the time they apply and the time they join.

"If they decide to join they can join quickly...We must make sure that we will give them security guarantees, there must not be a transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear," she said.

She was referring to the ratification period that can take as long as a year, during which the Nordic countries will not yet be protected by NATO's Article 5 which guarantees that an attack on one ally is an attack on all.

8:07am: Sweden's ruling party poised to back NATO bid

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats are poised on Sunday to come out in favour of the country joining NATO, paving the way for an application soon after abandoning decades of military non-alignment in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson's Social Democrats, the biggest party in every election for the past century, has held internal debates over the past week over dropping a long-standing opposition to NATO membership.

With party leadership having said it will decide on Sunday, and widely expected to drop its opposition, support for joining the alliance would command a broad majority in Sweden's Riksdag with much of the opposition already in favour. A formal application by Andersson's minority government is very likely to follow.

7:43am: Russia's Donbas offensive 'has lost momentum': UK military intelligence

Russia's offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region "has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule", British military intelligence said early on Sunday.

"Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days," the British military said in a regular Twitter bulletin.

"Despite small-scale initial advances, Russia has failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition," said the post adding that, "Russia has now likely suffered losses of one third of the ground combat force it committed in February."

7:08am: Missile hits military infrastructure in Lviv region: governor

A missile strike hit some military infrastructure in the western Ukrainian region of Lviv early on Sunday, the region's Governor Maxim Kozitsky said in a post on his Telegram messaging app.

"There is no information about dead or injured at this hour," Kozitsky said. "The extent of the destruction is being clarified."

1:35am: 'Our music conquers Europe': Zelensky hails Ukraine's Eurovision win

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has congratulated hip-hop group Kalush Orchestra for its victory in the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy late Saturday

"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!" Zelensky wrote on Facebook early Sunday, praising the Kalush Orchestra after they beat out 24 other competitors.

The group's entry "Stefania" - which was sung in Ukrainian - fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to band frontman Oleh Psiuk's mother.

"I thank the Kalush Orchestra for this victory and everyone who gave us your votes! I am sure that the sound of victory in the battle with the enemy is not far off," he added.

Ukraine claimed victory with a commanding lead in viewer voting. Britain's Sam Ryder finished second, while Chanel of Spain finished third.

It is the third time that Ukraine has won the annual competition.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Originally published on France24

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