By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) -Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday that if her nation takes the historic step of applying to join the NATO military alliance, it would be for the security of its own citizens and would also strengthen the international community.
Marin spoke after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, a day before Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is expected to say whether his country, which shares a long border with Russia, will apply to join NATO.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and neighbouring Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership, abandoning a belief held for decades that peace was best kept by not publicly choosing sides. Both countries have taken part in allied exercises for years.
“I told Prime Minister Kishida about our plans to possibly apply for NATO membership,” Marin told a news conference after the two leaders met in Tokyo.
“If Finland makes this historic step it is for the security of our own citizens. Joining NATO would strengthen the whole international community and stand for our common values.”
Marin also said Russia’s actions in Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special military operation” – openly violated international law and the United Nations charter.
“The atrocities against civilians continues. This cannot be accepted from any nation and less from a permanent member of the Security Council,” she said, adding that veto power in the council was being abused and it needed to be reformed.
Russia denies its forces have carried out abuses against civilians in Ukraine.
Kishida said the two had agreed that changing the status quo by force was unacceptable in any part of the world, a veiled reference to China, and both said their discussions included North Korea, said to be preparing for another nuclear test.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine has not only changed the European security environment but the global security environment,” Marin said at the start of discussions.
“This visit is very timely, our nations face similar challenges.”
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Angus MacSwan)