Putin Cautiously Accepts Finland, Sweden Joining NATO

Post created on 11:39 am



Vladimir Putin has signalled Russia will tolerate Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but warned the Kremlin would respond if the alliance installed military bases or equipment in either country.

The Russian president said on Monday the proposed NATO enlargement posed “no direct threat for Russia”, adding he had “no problems” with either Finland or Sweden.

Speaking on a day that Sweden formally announced its membership application while acknowledging it would remain “vulnerable” until it joined, Putin warned that “expanding military infrastructure on to this territory would provoke a response from us [ . . .] based on the threats they create for us”.

His comments appeared to indicate the Kremlin could live with Finnish and Swedish NATO membership provided the military alliance did not dispatch arms or troops to the two countries — as it did in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden has repeatedly said it does not want NATO military bases on its soil or to host nuclear missiles. Finland is thought to be unlikely to want either but said on Sunday that it would not set conditions before its membership.

But Turkey continued to be a thorn in the side of the Nordic nations’ applications with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warning again on Monday night that he would not accept them.

His comments prompted NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, to ring Turkey’s foreign minister to tell him “we must stand together at this historic moment”. Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: “Of course, these messages are worrying.”

Putin said NATO expansion in itself was “a completely artificial problem because it’s all done in US interests”.



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