There’s “no panic” in Helsinki over any “nasty” response to its NATO bid, says minister for European affairs FILE PHOTO: Reservists of the Karelia Brigade shoot with live rounds during the Etel’-Karjala 22 exercise in Taipalsaari, Finland, March 9, 2022 © Lauri Heno / Lehtikuva via AP

Helsinki would strengthen NATO and bring a lot of “added value” to the US-led military alliance, claimed Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, Tytti Tuppurainen, in an interview with Sky News on Saturday.

Finland’s push for NATO membership, which has been reinvigorated amid the Ukrainian crisis, is “about our own resistance” and freedom of “national movement maneuver,” Tuppurainen said. She admitted that it’s been known “for years that the Kremlin is not in favor of NATO enlargement,” but claimed the move is not intended to fuel confrontation with Moscow.

“We are prepared for all kinds of ill will and nasty measures against us. But there’s absolutely no panic. We are not afraid,” Tuppurainen said.

“We have a very strong conscript army. We have just made the decision to buy 60 F-35 fighters, and we are well equipped, and we will be a resource to the alliance,” she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, on Saturday, in which Niinisto told Putin that his country is set to make a decision on joining the US-led military bloc within days.

Russia updates position on Baltic nukes Russia updates position on Baltic nukes

Putin warned that Helsinki’s move to abandon its “traditional policy of military neutrality” would be a “mistake,” stressing that there were “no threats to Finland’s security.” The move “may have a negative impact” on “mutually beneficial” relations between the two countries, he outlined.

Finland’s neighbor Sweden, is also considering a NATO membership, and could lodge its application as early as Monday, according to local media reports. (RT)