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05/12/2016

Russia concerned by Finland and Sweden’s NATO rapprochement

Global Europe

Russia concerned by Finland and Sweden’s NATO rapprochement

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday (12 April) that moves by Finland and Sweden towards closer ties with NATO were of “special concern”.

The comments were published in relation to an article in the newspaper Aftenposten, where in a joint declaration, the defence ministers of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland said northern Europe must prepare for possible crises or incidents because of Russia.

>> Read: Nordic nations agree on defence cooperation against Russia

“Unlike in previous years, the Nordic defence cooperation positions itself as a foe with respect to Russia, with the potential of undermining the positive constructive relations established over the last decades”, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Finland, which borders its former ruler Russia, and Sweden, are not members of NATO, but have increased cooperation with the trans-Atlantic alliance, and the joint declaration has been among their strongest responses to Russia’s aggression.

Finish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb called the Russian statement “sabre-rattling”, but said one should not be startled by it.

“No other country, of course, has a veto over Finland’s decisions,” Stubb, who would like to see Finland join NATO, told public broadcaster YLE.

He said the security policy situation had changed after the crises in Georgia and Ukraine, which will impact security policy in the region.

“One essential pillar of our international (defence) cooperation is what we do with Sweden. It is also clear that we will continue a close cooperation inside the EU and a close partnership with NATO.”