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Finnish diplomat says Russia's ‘nuclear threats’ were why country sought NATO membership

The real security situation in Europe has changed, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said

TOKYO, December 4. /TASS/. The main reason for Finland's aspiration to join NATO was the alleged nuclear threats from Russia after the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told the Kyodo news agency in an interview published on Sunday.

"The bid to join NATO was caused mainly by Russia's nuclear threats," he said. According to him, with the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, "the real security situation in Europe has changed." With this in mind, Haavisto said, Finland had to think about "how to react" and "where to get support" in the event of a nuclear and chemical weapons threat, which was a fundamental factor in the decision to join NATO.

On May 18, Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership, however, their entry bid was immediately stonewalled by Ankara who demanded that the Nordic countries declare Kurdish organizations to be terrorist ones, extradite persons to Turkey, who are accused of terrorist activity or aiding and abetting the 2016 coup d’etat attempt, along with removing bans on arms supplies to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andresson, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on June 28, ahead of the Madrid-hosted NATO summit. The talks yielded a memorandum on Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO, which is to be ratified by all the bloc’s member states.

At present only two out of 30 NATO member countries - Hungary and Turkey - have not ratified the protocol. In particular, Ankara demanded from Stockholm and Helsinki in exchange for ratification to extradite Kurdish activists associated with terrorist activities against Turkey, as well as persons involved in the attempted military coup in Turkey in 2016, including former Turkish military officers who previously worked in international structures of NATO, who then received asylum in Finland and Sweden.