Putin warns of reaction if Sweden and Finland join NATO

President Putin did not criticize Finland and Sweden for joining NATO, but warned of a reaction if the military infrastructure in both countries is expanded.

“Regarding the expansion of NATO, including the addition of new members such as Finland and Sweden, I would say that Russia has no problem with these countries. It does not pose a direct threat and which is urgent for us,” said the Russian president Vladimir Putin during a meeting with leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member countries in Moscow today.

However, the Russian President also warned that the expansion of military infrastructure on the territories of these two countries will provoke a reaction from Moscow. “Specific measures will be based on the threat they pose to Russia,” Putin said.

President Putin is addressing the meeting of CSTO heads of state and government in Moscow today.  Photo: AFP.

President Putin is addressing the meeting of CSTO heads of state and government in Moscow today. Photo: AFP.

Putin accused NATO of pursuing a policy of expansion beyond the geographic boundaries of the Euro-Atlantic region and attempting to interfere in the international security landscape to “serve the interests of the United States”.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said yesterday he was surprised by President Putin’s calm reaction when announcing his decision to apply to join NATO. “It’s amazing that he takes information so calmly. But in security policy, especially towards Russia, you have to remember that you don’t always understand what he’s saying,” said Niinisto.

The President and Prime Minister of Finland confirmed on May 15 that the country will join NATO, calling it a historic decision that ushers in a new era. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats announced their support for joining NATO on the same day, reversing decades of opposition to joining the military alliance.

The two Nordic countries are expected to jointly apply to join NATO this week. Before deciding to join NATO, Finland followed a policy of neutrality for 75 years, while Sweden practiced this policy for two centuries.

Seven Decades of NATO Progress.  Graphic: Statista

Seven Decades of NATO Progress. Graphic: statistics.

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev warned on April 14 that Russia would be forced to restore military balance if Finland and Sweden abandoned their decades-old policy of not forming a military alliance and joined NATO in the Baltic region, including the deployment of nuclear weapons there.

vu appendix (Corresponding interfax)