It paves the way for a historic expansion of the alliance that could deal a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles with its war in Ukraine.

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s leaders say they’re in favor of rapidly applying for NATO membership. It paves the way for a historic expansion of the alliance that could deal a serious blow to Russia as its military struggles with its war in Ukraine. The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. It means that Finland is all but certain to join NATO. But a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in coming days. The Kremlin reacted to the development a few hours later, saying that Finland’s move to join NATO won’t help stability and security in Europe. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia.

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