Ukraine war: MPs in Finland mull petition for a referendum on joining NATO

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By Euronews  with AFP
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends a press conference in Helsinki.
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends a press conference in Helsinki.   -   Copyright  Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP

Finland's parliament is discussing a petition to hold a referendum on joining NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A petition of more than 50,000 signatures has called on Finnish MPs to debate NATO membership amid the conflict.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin has confirmed that parties will be asked to discuss the petition on Tuesday.

But she added on Twitter that the country's parliament would not hold a "broad" debate on joining the Western military alliance.

"The event will not include a broader discussion on Finland's line on military alliance or non-alignment," Marin said.

A recent poll found that a clear majority of Finnish citizens are in favour of joining NATO for the first time amid the war in Ukraine.

Public television Yle found that 53% of those surveyed were in favour of joining NATO, while only 28% were against and 19% were undecided.

A previous poll carried out by commercial broadcaster MTV3 in January showed 30% of people at that time wanted to join NATO.

A shift in attitudes is also reflected in the country's politics, with majority support for NATO accession across supporters of all parliamentary parties except the Left Alliance.

Helsinki has reaffirmed in recent days that it has no plans to join NATO despite Vladimir Putin's ordered attack on Ukraine. 

However, politicians have said the option of joining the military alliance does remain on the table. 

Moscow has also warned Finland -- and neighbouring Sweden -- that NATO membership would have "serious military and political repercussions".

Finland also announced on Monday that it had taken the "historic" decision to supply arms to Ukraine -- namely 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket launchers and 70,000 field ration packages.

Finland has Europe’s longest border with Russia at over 1,300 kilometres.