Russia warned Finland and Sweden on Monday that joining the NATO military alliance was a dangerous mistake, and that Moscow will respond.
On the same day that Finland revealed its intention to join NATO, Sweden’s ruling party indicated its support for membership, clearing the door for a combined application marking a momentous shift in European security and geopolitics precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters. “The general level of military tensions will increase,” he added.
How the Russia-Ukraine situation affects Sweden and Finland
Finland’s desire to join the alliance will require a vote in parliament, but given the ruling government’s backing, that hurdle should be easily overcome. Sweden’s parliament considered the proposal on Monday, and while there is widespread support for joining NATO, the government does not require parliamentary approval to proceed.
“When we look at Russia, we see a very different kind of Russia today than we saw just a few months ago,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said. “Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine. And I personally think that we cannot trust anymore there will be a peaceful future next to Russia.”
Joining NATO is “an act of peace so that there will never again be war in Finland in the future,” Marin said. While Swedish PM, Andersson, said “To ensure the safety of Swedish people, the best way forward is to join NATO together with Finland.”
Moscow on Finland and Sweden
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “It is a pity that common sense is being sacrificed for some phantom ideas about what should be done in the current situation.”
“They should have no illusions that we will just put up with this,” he added.
Finland and Sweden are set to abandon decades of military non-alignment in order to join NATO as a deterrent to Russian invasion. Moscow has threatened to take “reciprocal steps” against Finland, with which it shares a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border.
On Saturday, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss Finland’s NATO membership application.
Putin, according to the Kremlin, considers any end to Finland’s military neutrality a “mistake.”