Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, on Saturday that the Nordic country’s renunciation of neutrality to join NATO It would be a “wrong” decision.
“Putin stressed that giving up the traditional policy of military neutrality would be wrong, since there is no threat to the security of Finland”the Kremlin said in a statement.
He stressed that such a change in Helsinki’s foreign policy “may negatively influence Russian-Finnish relations, which for many years were characterized by a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation between partners, and they were mutually beneficial”.
Before starting the “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, Putin had demanded that NATO put an end to its expansion to Eastern Europe and withdraw military infrastructure from countries that joined the bloc after 1997.
The Kremlin stressed on Saturday that the conversation had been “frank” and had focused on Finland’s plans to apply for NATO membership, accession that could be formalized at the allied summit in June in Madridand in the situation in Ukraine.
“In particular, Putin shared his vision of the negotiating process between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations, which has been practically frozen by kyivwhich shows no interest in a serious and constructive dialogue,” says the official note.
Russia threatens Helsinki with “military-technical” measures
Not expected, Finland’s decision to join the Atlantic Alliance has ceased to sit like a jug of cold water to Russia, which has already threatened Helsinki with “military-technical” measures.
In turn, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexandr Grushkó, warned this Saturday on the possible deployment by NATO of nuclear weapons in Finland and Swedenonce both countries formally join NATO.
“It is enough to look at the map to understand how important the allied enlargement is for the security interests of the Russian Federation”he highlighted.
He admitted that, for the time being, the Atlantic Alliance has not changed its nuclear policybut its general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, has affirmed that “nuclear weapons can be placed closer to the Russian border and the Polish leaders have assured that they are willing to receive them”.
“If those statements are confirmed in practice, of course, it will be necessary to react with the adoption of preventive measures that guarantee a sure dissuasion”, warned the diplomat.
Despite the current Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Grushkó considered it “impossible” to suspect hostile intentions on the part of Russia against Finland and Sweden, accusations he linked to attempts to “demonize” Russia from the political and military point of view.
Moscow, which accuses Helsinki of threatening the security of Europe by opening a new allied flank in the north of the continentcut off the supply of electricity to the neighboring country this Saturday supposedly due to non-payment problems.
Finnish entry would double the border of the Russian Federation with the Atlantic Alliance, since Russia shares 1,300 kilometers of border with the Scandinavian country.
Russia now has a border with the following members of the Western bloc: Poland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in addition to a 49-kilometre maritime border with the United States.
NATO foreign ministers meeting
The possible entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO is the central issue of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Alliance that is being held this weekend in berlin. The meeting started this Saturday with an informal dinner and will continue on Sunday with work sessions.
The two countries are represented as guests at the NATO meeting in Berlin. Within the organization there seems to be majority support for entry although Turkey has clear reservations due to what is considered in Ankara to be complacent towards Finland and Sweden, that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogandescribed as “hotels for terrorists”.
“We must remember that NATO is an alliance of democracies, that Finland, and also Sweden if it decides to do so, are fully consolidated democracies and therefore nothing is more normal than welcoming them into the family of democracies”, said the Foreign Minister Spanish, Jose Manuel Albaresin a statement that seems to reflect the position of most countries.
The Finnish Minister Pekka Haavistowas confident that NATO membership will be reached, although he acknowledges that the process may last “several months” and trusts that his border with Russia “will remain peaceful.”
“We will take up this matter on Monday and it is very likely that there will be a strong majority in our Parliament in support of NATO membership and we will be able to apply within the next week,” the minister said upon arrival.