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Ukraine ends symbolic Azovstal steel plant defense

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (3rd L) speaks during a plenary session at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland, on May 16, as legislators debate Finland's Nato membership.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (3rd L) speaks during a plenary session at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland, on May 16, as legislators debate Finland's Nato membership. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

Finland "must apply for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to strengthen its security," the country's parliamentary foreign affairs committee has said.

The committee's recommendation marks the completion of another legislative step required for Finland to formally seek NATO membership.

Russia's long-standing aggressive policies and the goal of dividing Europe into new spheres of influence took on a new dimension after the country's invasion of Ukraine," the committee said Tuesday.

It added that a "failure to respond would lead to a narrowing of Finland's foreign, security and defence policy."

NATO presents the "strongest possible additional protection" for Finnish security, the committee said.

The committee's stance signals their agreement with the Finnish government’s intention for Finland to join NATO.

Some background: Last week, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced their intentions to join NATO.

Marin formally presented that desire at a press conference on Sunday, ditching decades of neutrality and ignoring Russian threats of possible retaliation as the Nordic country attempts to strengthen its security amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Finland’s accession to NATO would bring the US-led military alliance up to Finland's 830-mile border with Russia, but could take months to finalize as the legislatures of all 30 current NATO members must approve new applicants.

The Swedish government has also signaled that it wants to apply for NATO membership.

NATO has what it calls an "open door policy" on new members -- any European country can request to join, so long as they meet certain criteria and all existing members agree.

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