Finland can rely on one NATO ally to come to its defense, even if the Nordic country hasn’t joined the military alliance yet.
Ben Wallace, the United Kingdom’s defense secretary, said on Wednesday that alliances between European countries “make us safer" as he promised his country would always be prepared to defend Finland.
“Do I think if Finland didn’t join NATO Britain wouldn’t come along to help? No. Britain will always be here in the Nordics, to be part of you, to help you, to support you,” Wallace said at a joint press conference with Finland’s defense minister. “It is inconceivable that Britain would not come to the support of Finland or Sweden, if it was ever attacked, without any big formal agreement.”
Although Wallace promised “support” for Finland, he didn’t say the U.K. would commit to sending troops into the country.
NATO CHIEF SAYS FINLAND AND SWEDEN APPLICATIONS COULD MOVE ‘QUICKLY’
Wallace’s comments come as Finland and Sweden consider joining NATO as they watch Russia march through Ukraine.
Wallace said Finland has the "freedom" to choose whether it wants to join NATO and that the U.K. is "here to support their freedom to choose and not allow some other nation to tell them what to do with that choice."
Finnish media reports suggest the country could submit its NATO application as early as May 12, according to the Evening Standard.
Last month, NATO’s top official said the military alliance is prepared to fast-track the two countries’ applications if they decide they want to join the alliance.
“It’s their decision,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed, and I expect that process to go quickly.”
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Finland shares 830 miles of border with Russia and has expressed an interest in forging stronger military ties with Western countries in the face of Russian threats.
Russia has warned it will “re-balance the situation” if the two countries do join NATO.