Russia threatened military action on Friday should NATO expand with the additions of Finland and Sweden.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press conference that the Nordic countries’ addition into NATO would “have serious military and political consequences.” The independent nations, which have close ties to the alliance, have historically resisted full membership, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday may have shifted their priorities.
“All [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] member states in their national capacity, including Finland and Sweden, have reaffirmed the principle that the security of one country cannot be built at the expense of the security of others,” Zakharova said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that NATO’s expansion threatens Russian national security. Putin previously made the assertion to keep Ukraine out of the alliance.
“Obviously, the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO, which is primarily a military alliance as you well understand, would have serious military and political consequences, which would require our country to make response steps,” Zakharova added, according to The Eurasian Times.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry later emphasized Zakharova’s comments on Twitter, posting: “We regard the Finnish government’s commitment to a military non-alignment policy as an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe. … Finland’s accession to @NATO would have serious military and political repercussions.”
Though joining NATO has previously lacked majority support in Sweden and Finland, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and NATO’s unwillingness to come to Ukraine’s defense, may have shifted the Nordic countries’ considerations.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a press conference on Thursday that lawmakers have renewed interest in looking at a NATO membership. Joining NATO as a member would allow the country to call on the alliance for its collective defense in the case of an attack.
“Finland is not currently facing an immediate military threat, but it is also now clear that the debate on NATO membership in Finland will change,” Marin told reporters when asked about Finland’s potential entry into the alliance. The prime minister added that such a decision would require wide support among lawmakers and the people.
Before launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Russia for years undermined Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO, and thus deny it Article 5 protections, by claiming that Ukraine’s entry into the alliance would undermine Russia’s national security.
Putin justified Thursday’s drastic action in a televised speech claiming that Ukraine must be purged of “far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis.” Putin also claimed that Ukraine belongs to the Russian Federation.
“Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians,” Putin said.
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