Finland officially applies to join NATO the day after Russia threatened to nuke it in '10 seconds'

FINLAND has confirmed it will be applying for NATO membership despite warnings from Russia that it could nuke the country in "ten seconds".

The move comes in defiance of Moscow's threat after Vladimir Putin yesterday told the Finnish president joining the Western alliance would be a "mistake".

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured NATO membership, in a major policy shift prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia, which shares an 830-mile border with Finland, has said it Helsinki joining the transatlantic alliance would harm bilateral ties.

Niinisto said: "Today, the President of the Republic and the Government's Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that

"Finland will apply for NATO membership, after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening."

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The Finnish parliament will convene on Monday to debate the decision, with current projections showing a large majority of the country's 200 member parliament supporting the bid.

Marin added: "We have reached today an important decision in good cooperation with the government and the president of the republic.

"We hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for the NATO membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate."

Finland has remained militarily non-aligned for 75 years, but Russia invaded Ukraine in February, political and public opinion swung dramatically in favour of membership, with the Finnish president and prime minister on Thursday calling for the country to join NATO "without delay".

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It comes as senior Russian politician Aleksey Zhuravlyov threatened to nuke Britain with its Satan-2 hypersonic missile in 200 seconds and obliterate Finland in just ten.

Zhuravlyov, 59, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s defence committee, said in an interview it was “absolutely legitimate” for Russia to “question the existence” of Finland.

He was asked if Russia now needed to station its nuclear missiles including the Sarmat – known in the West as the Satan-2 – on the border with its neighbour.

“What for? We don't need to,” he replied.

“We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK. And if we strike from Kaliningrad the hypersonic's reaching time is 200 seconds – so go ahead, guys.”

He said other types of missiles stationed on the Finnish border “will reach Finland in 20 seconds, or even ten seconds”.

In response to Finland's decision to join NATO, Russia also cut off electricity supplies.

Putin told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Saturday that Finland scrapping its military neutrality would be a "mistake", the Kremlin said.

"Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland's security," the Kremlin said in a statement.

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US President Joe Biden held a joint call with Finland’s leaders on Friday to support their Nato application — although Turkey has warned it may veto the move.

Boris Johnson signed a security deal with Finnish president Sauli Niinisto last week.

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