Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that Russia will react if Finland and Sweden deploy NATO troops and military infrastructure on their territory.
Speaking at a press conference following the 6th Caspian Rim Heads of State Summit in Ashgabat on Wednesday, Putin said there was no threat to Russia if Sweden and Finland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, he added that Moscow will have to “create the same threats to the territory from which the threats against us are created.”
“We don’t have such problems with Sweden and Finland, which we unfortunately have with Ukraine,” Putin said. said. “We don’t have any territorial issues…no disputes…we don’t have anything to bother us from the point of view of Finland or Sweden joining NATO.”
“Only they should clearly and clearly realize that there were no threats before, now if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in a mirror way and create the same threats in the territories from which threats are created for us,” the Russian leader stressed.
Commenting on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement that Russia now has “more NATO” on its border, Putin said Finland and Sweden’s membership is very different from Ukraine.
“These are completely different things. They fully understand this and they just throw this thesis into public opinion to show that Russia has not achieved the desired results,” he said.
The statement came after the two Nordic countries were formally invited to join the Western military alliance on Wednesday, initiating the membership process. Sweden and Finland are members of the EU, but not NATO, and the latter shares a 1,340 kilometer (830 mile) border with Russia and was once part of the Russian Empire. The accession of the two formally non-aligned Baltic countries to NATO marks one of the biggest changes in European security in decades.
The decision by the two Baltic states to join the Western military bloc came shortly after Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, arguing that their joining the military bloc would negatively affect the bilateral relationship and force it to “restore the military balance” by strengthening its defenses in the Baltic Sea region.
NATO was founded in 1949 to allow Western powers to respond to the growing power and influence of the Soviet Union. Under a premise covered by Article 5, an attack on one NATO member state is considered an attack on all the others, and each state is required to support the other members.
Finland’s full NATO membership will create a new security architecture both for the country and for the entire military alliance, while it would pave the way for the military bloc to partially encircle St. Petersburg. and expand the Western presence across the strategic Arctic Circle.
Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine sparked global outrage, has long bristled at NATO’s rapprochement with its borders. Officials in Moscow have repeatedly claimed that the deployment of alliance troops threatens stability near the country’s borders and could trigger a forceful response from Russia to ensure its security.
Tensions between Russia and the West have skyrocketed amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. Relations between NATO and Russia, which are already strained, are unlikely to deteriorate since NATO adopted a new Strategic design during this week’s summit in Madrid which defined Russia as “the most significant and direct threat” to the security of the Allies.