Finland will become the 31st member of the world’s largest military alliance on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday.
“I congratulated (Finland) President Niinisto on the completion of the historic ratification of Finland’s accession,” Stoltenberg said on social media. “I look forward to raising Finland’s flag at NATO headquarters in the coming days. Together we are stronger and safer.”
Stoltenberg said Turkey, the last country to have ratified Finland’s membership, will hand over official documents to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday. Stoltenberg said he expected Sweden would also win approval in coming weeks. Both nations sought expedited membership after Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto will attend the ceremony. Haavisto said in a statemen that his country wants to promote stability and security throughout the Euro-Atlantic region.
“It is a historic moment for us,” he said. “For Finland, the most important objective at the meeting will be to emphasize NATO’s support to Ukraine as Russia continues its illegal aggression.”
►Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Warsaw on Wednesday for talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda, Polish authorities said.
►Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at next month’s world taekwondo championships. The decision by World Taekwondo’s ruling council could cause Ukraine to boycott the event.
Russian antiterrorism officials on Monday blamed Ukraine and supporters of Putin political rival Alexei Navalny for the explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe that killed a prominent pro-Kremlin war blogger.
Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee issued a statement saying the blast Sunday that killed Vladlen Tatarsky, 40, and wounded about 30 others was planned by Ukrainian special services and agents collaborating with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Investigators have said they believe the bomb was hidden in a bust of the blogger presented to him just before the explosion. Darya Trepova, 26, was arrested after video emerged showing her presenting Tatarsky with the bust. Trepova has previously been detained by police for taking part in antiwar rallies and is an “active supporter” of Navalny, the committee said.
Anti-Corruption Foundation head Ivan Zhdanov dismissed the claims, saying it’s “convenient” to blame Ukraine and Navalny’s group.
“Everything that’s happening suggests that in reality, (Russian) agents themselves eliminated this propagandist,” Zhdanov said in a statement. “They’ve been doing this since 2014 – poisoning and killing each other left and right.”
Contributing: The Associated Press