Finland has confirmed that it will apply for Nato membership, despite warnings from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that abandoning neutrality would be a “mistake”.
President Sauli Niinisto called it a “historic day”. He says the shift in policy is in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Nato foreign ministers say they want a rapid accession process for Finland.
Sweden could also announce its intention to join as soon as Monday.
Finland shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border with Russia. Until now, it has stayed out of Nato to avoid antagonising its eastern neighbour.
On Saturday Mr Niinisto called Mr Putin to tell him of the Finnish decision and later said the call had been “direct and straight-forward” and “conducted without aggravations”.
“Avoiding tensions was considered important,” he said.
Announcing the decision in Helsinki on Sunday, he said he had wanted to “say it straight” to Mr Putin. “I, or Finland, are not known to sneak around and quietly disappear behind a corner,” he said. Finland’s parliament must now ratify the decision but Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she was confident MPs would debate the matter “with determination and responsibility”.