Finland’s leaders have announced that the country should apply to join NATO defence alliance “without delay”.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement on Thursday that Finland should submit an application to join NATO military alliance.
Their backing paves the way for a final decision to be made with the involvement of parliament in the coming days.
Russia has warned there will be consequences if Finland and Sweden join NATO, whose members see an attack on one as an attack on all.
Both countries have a long history of wartime neutrality but have seen public support for joining NATO grow since Russia invaded Ukraine.
On Wednesday UK prime minister, Boris Johnson offered security guarantees to Sweden and Finland, should their militaries come under attack.
The NATO security alliance was founded in 1949, when a world war had given way to the cold war.
NATO expanded following the collapse of the soviet union, when eastern European countries who were once members of the rival Warsaw pact decided to join.