German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference with Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin (not pictured) amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2022. John Macdougall/Pool via REUTERS

March 16, 2022

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday he welcomed any interest shown by Finland in joining NATO, a question that has gained more urgency since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has prompted a public debate in neutral Finland, which shares a long land border with Russia, on whether to join the U.S.-led NATO alliance.

Asked at a news conference with the Finnish prime minister whether Germany would support Finland if it decided it wanted to join the defence alliance, Scholz said there was already cooperation between Finland and NATO.

“The wishes that Finland brings to us and the alliances that we are involved in are always very welcome,” said Scholz, adding nothing more concrete.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said her country was reviewing the matter, a move announced earlier this month.

“It is possible that Finland will look to join NATO,” said Marin.

She urged Germany and other countries to stop financing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war by ending the purchase of fossil fuels from there.

“That has to stop… I am sure that Germany and other member states of the European Union are trying to find other ways,” she said.

Scholz, who repeated his call for Putin to end the war in Ukraine and pull out Russian troops, reiterated that Germany was looking at reducing its dependency on Russian oil and gas.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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