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Russia Threatens Nuclear Response If Sweden and Finland Join NATO

Russia Threatens Nuclear Response If Sweden and Finland Join NATO

Call it the scariest game of RISK you’ve ever watched other people play.

Moscow sees neighboring Finland’s potential inclusion in NATO as a threat to its national security, as the U.S. could deploy advanced military equipment in Finland if it joined the alliance. Now the former president and deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council says a nuclear-free Baltic region would no longer be possible if both Finland and Sweden join NATO, alluding to additional nuclear deployments in Europe. The Baltics are comprised of the northeastern European countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, all of which are members of the EU as well as NATO. Sweden and Finland are members of the EU, but not NATO, and the latter shares an 830-mile border with Russia.

(Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Dmitry Medvedev posted the comments on his official Telegram channel Thursday, adding that Russia will have to “seriously strengthen the grouping of land forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland. In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic – the balance must be restored,” he wrote.

 

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has brought about a complete reversal of Finnish public opinion on becoming a member of the 30-country military alliance, which it has resisted joining since World War II in an effort to maintain neutrality. Moscow has in the past warned of severe consequences and instability in the Nordics if Finland were to join. If Finland joined the alliance, Sweden would likely follow suit. Finland and Sweden, as well as Ukraine, are already “Enhanced Opportunity Partners” of NATO, the closest form of partnership with the alliance, and partake in military exercises with NATO states.

Medvedev’s comments come just one day after Finland and Sweden said their decision on whether to apply for NATO membership would come within a matter of weeks. If the two countries did join NATO, this would give Moscow “more officially registered opponents,” Medvedev posted on Telegram. He also claimed that NATO was planning to admit the two Nordic states with “minimal bureaucratic procedures.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said it is for Finland and Sweden to decide their own path. He has also said, “the door remains open” for the alliance to welcome new members.

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