Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO is not a threat to Russia, but it may provoke an answer / Day

NATO enlargement to include Finland and Sweden “does not pose a direct threat to us (…), but the expansion of military infrastructure into these areas will certainly provoke our response,” Putin told a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODIHR) in Moscow.

The Moscow-led military alliance unites six countries: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Putin described the forthcoming accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO as an artificial problem in the interests of the United States. He added that NATO had become an “instrument of one country’s foreign policy”.

“All this exacerbates the already difficult international security environment,” Putin said.

Finnish President Sauli Niniste and Prime Minister Sanna Marina officially announced on Sunday that Finland would ask to join NATO. The Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalen Andesson, made a similar statement on Monday.

Finland and Sweden have long refrained from joining the alliance, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has radically changed the security situation in Europe, and support for NATO membership has skyrocketed among politicians and the public in both countries.

Before the start of the war against Ukraine, Putin demanded that NATO stop expanding and withdraw its forces from Russia’s borders. But Putin’s expected effect will not materialize. With the accession of Finland, the length of the Russian-NATO border will more than double.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko said at an ODKB meeting in Moscow that “NATO is building its muscles aggressively”, attracting Finland and Sweden, and accused the United States of wanting to prolong the conflict in Ukraine.

Leaders of other ODKB countries did not comment on NATO enlargement.

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Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, described Finland’s and Sweden’s forthcoming accession to NATO on Monday as “a serious mistake with far-reaching consequences”.

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