OREANDA-NEWS. Finland retains the possibility of applying for NATO membership. The country's Prime Minister Sanna Marin said this, according to Yle.

"We retain the possibility to apply for NATO membership. We must cherish this freedom of choice and preserve it because it concerns the right of every country to make its own security decisions,"- she stressed.

According to Marin, Finland will intensify defence cooperation with the EU.

Earlier in his New Year's Eve address, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said Russia's demands for security guarantees from the US and NATO worry Europe because they contradict the established European security order.

On 17 December, the Russian Foreign Ministry sent proposals to the US and NATO on security guarantees, which include not expanding the alliance eastwards and not deploying weapons near Russia's borders. Russian President Vladimir Putin also demanded that Washington and NATO provide legally binding security guarantees.

In response, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the bloc would not compromise on Ukraine's accession to the alliance. He recalled Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, under which the alliance can invite other European countries to join NATO.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the USA was preparing its proposals on security.

Negotiations on security guarantees will be held on 10 January. Russia will be represented by First Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and the U.S. side by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. The NATO-Russia Council will meet on 12 January, followed by talks between Russia and the OSCE on 13 January.