Finland on Thursday announced its interest in joining NATO.
The Nordic nation's president and prime minister said Finland must apply to join the NATO military alliance "without delay" a major policy shift triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"For us joining NATO would be not against anybody. We would like to maximize our security in way or another while thinking membership in NATO, but it is not a zero sum game. If Finland increases its security it's not away from anybody else."
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 Finland has gradually stepped up its cooperation with NATO as a partner but had until now refrained from joining in order to maintain a friendly relationship with neighboring Russia.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Finland's decision saying that the accession process would be "smooth and swift."
But Moscow's response was that such a move would be a threat to Russia and warned of possible retaliation.
But Finland's foreign minister said in a media briefing on Thursday that the Finnish government is planning to issue a second white paper on Sunday proposing to join NATO.
Meanwhile the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Thursday released satellite imagery of destroyed Russian military vehicles and a pontoon bridge that crosses the Siverskyi Donets river in the east of the country.
British newspaper The Times reported on Thursday that over 70 Russian tanks and armored vehicles were estimated to have been destroyed and around 1-thousand Russian soldiers were killed by Ukrainian forces.
With the war going on for almost three months now David Beasley the head of the United Nations World Food Program told CNN on Thursday that millions of people could die because Ukraine's Black Sea ports are being blocked by Russian officials.
Vital shipments of agricultural products remain stuck in Odessa and other neighboring ports.
The UN official also said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin has any heart at all for the rest of the world he has to open the ports up.
Lee Rae-hyun, Arirang News.