The Finnish government has officially announced its intention to join NATO, forgoing their decades-long history of military neutrality and ignoring Russian threats of possible retaliation.
"We have reached today and important decision in good cooperation between the government and the president of the republic. We hope that the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate."
A formal membership application will be summitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels, following approval by the Finnish parliament.
The decision risks possible retaliation by Moscow, whose president, Vladimir Putin, said Saturday that abandoning military neutrality and joining the bloc would be a "mistake."
The next day, the Finnish President, Sauli Niinisto, said his latest discussions with Putin did not contain any threats, adding Putin was calm and cool.
Just hours after Finland's announcement, Sweden's ruling party followed suit, saying Sweden will also look to join the western alliance.
"With this in mind, our conclusion is that as a member of NATO, Sweden will not only achieve more security but also contribute to more security. Within NATO, Sweden would be a security provider and the Social Democratic Party will support an application for NATO membership together with Finland."
The head of NATO played down any risks to swift membership for the two Nordic countries, adding Turkey has stressed it does not intend to try and block the membership.
"So my intention is still to have a quick and swift process, where we will then sit down with Finland and Sweden if they apply, agree the accession protocol and then hope work for a very speedy ratification process in the thirty parliaments."
NATO membership requires support from all of the current thirty allies, including Turkey, which has accused Finland and Sweden of supporting Kurdish groups.
NATO further explained it will take proactive steps to provide Helsinki and Stockholm with extra protection until their membership is finalized.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.