Russia calls Finland and Sweden’s Nato moves ‘mistake with far-reaching consequences’

Kremlim says their accession would in no way strengthen Europe’s security architecture

Shweta Sharma
Monday 16 May 2022 12:38
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Ukrainian soldiers load bodies of deceased Russian troops into refrigerated train

Russia on Monday issued a stern rebuke to Finland and Sweden on their decisions to join the Nato military alliance, warning of “far-reaching consequences” for what it described as gross mistakes.

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said Finland and Sweden should have no illusions that Moscow will accept their decisions, and added that the “overall level of military tensions” will rise.

“We are making a thorough analysis of the situation. It has certainly changed radically in light of the developments. All this [plans to apply for Nato membership] reflects an absolutely false and distorted perception of what’s going on in the world,” Mr Ryabkov said, according to Tass news agency.

“We find it quite obvious that neither Sweden’s, nor Finland’s security will be enhanced following the decision, while what will be the format of our ensuring our security is a separate issue,” he added.

The Russian diplomat doubled down on the Kremlin’s response to the development after Moscow said it was closely following Finland and Sweden’s bids to join Nato.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday said Russia was convinced that their accession would in no way strengthen Europe’s security architecture.

The warning from Russia came as Sweden announced that it will be applying for Nato membership, following Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (800 mile) border with Russia.

Both dropped their long-standing opposition to membership of the US-led block, maintained since it was formed in 1949 to counter the military might of the Soviet Union and its allies.

President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (R) and US senator Mitch Mc Connell (L) at press conference in Helsinki on 16 May

“Europe, Sweden and the Swedish people are living now in a new and dangerous reality,” Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson said during a debate in parliament.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin deems the expansion of Nato eastwards as a threat to the security of his country.

Warning the Nato headquarters in Belgium, the US and other Nato nations of the rise in military tensions, Mr Ryabkov lamented that “common sense” was being neglected.

“Brussels, Washington and other Nato capitals should be under no illusion we will simply put up with the fact. So, if the overall level of military tensions rises, there will be less predictability in the sphere,” he said.

Prime minister of Finland Sanna Marin talks at the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on 16 May

“Common sense is being sacrificed to some phantom ideas on what should be done in the situation,” he added. “This will be another gross mistake with far-reaching consequences. But then, alas, that’s the sanity level of those who are making political decisions in corresponding countries.”

Turkey, a Nato member, also criticised Finald and Sweden’s decision to apply for the bloc’s membership, in a surprise to the west.

To justify his position, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that “Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations”. Ankara is seeking the repatriation of 33 people across Finland and Sweden with alleged links to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants or the Muslim cleric Fethullan Gulen, whom Mr Erdogan accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Such opposition has the potential to thwart any bid from the two nations, since new membership of the alliance hinges on unanimous agreement from all 30 member states.

Last month, one of Mr Putin’s closest allies said that Moscow could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Coast, if the two nations joined Nato.

Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and lost swathes of territory after allying with Nazi Germany to fight against the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Sweden has not fought a war for 200 years and has maintained a foreign policy focused on supporting democracy and nuclear disarmament.

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