Russian President Vladimir Putin said Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO pose no direct threat to Russia, but warned the Western military alliance against moving weapons into the territories of both countries.
“As for the extension [of NATO], including through new members of the alliance – Finland, Sweden – Russia wants to inform you that it has no problem with these states,” Putin said Monday, at a gathering in Moscow of leaders member countries of the Collective Security Treaty. (CSTO), the Russian-backed military alliance. “Therefore, in this sense, expansion because of these countries does not pose a direct threat to Russia.”
Putin’s comments contrast with remarks made earlier Monday by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said the Nordic countries’ overtures to NATO were a “serious mistake” that would have “profound consequences “.
Ending more than half a century of military neutrality, Finland said on Sunday it would apply to join NATO in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine. “It’s a historic day – a new era is beginning,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said. On Monday, Sweden followed, with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announcing her intention to submit a bid for the military alliance on behalf of the country.
But Putin warned that there would be consequences if the military alliance moved weapons into the territory of the two countries.
“The expansion of military infrastructure in this territory will undoubtedly spur us to react,” Putin told the leaders of the five former Soviet republics, adding that NATO’s “endless expansion policy” also “requires careful attention. extra from us”.
The comments come after Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said on Sunday that the CSTO is also expected to expand and that he expects “dozens of states” to join the alliance within “a few years.” “. The CSTO, which was founded in 1992, currently counts among its members Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.