Finland has formally confirmed it will apply for Nato membership amid days of speculation.

Finland’s president and Prime Minister announced their intention to apply for membership, paving the way for the Western military alliance to expand amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The statement was announced at a joint news conference in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki today, Sunday May 15.

Top Nato diplomats are meeting on Sunday in Berlin to discuss providing further support to Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join the alliance in the face of threats from Russia.

This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his Finnish counterpart relations between the two neighbours could be “negatively affected” if Finland followed through with plans to apply for Nato membership.

The Kremlin’s press service said in a statement that Mr Putin told Sauli Niinisto that Finland’s abandonment “of its traditional policy of military neutrality would be an error since there are no threats to Finland’s security”.

“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations, which had been built in the spirit of good neighbourliness and partnership for many years, and were mutually beneficial,” the statement added.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, the longest by any European Union member.