Russia adopts ‘stick and carrot’ policy toward Finland, Sweden

The State Duma may “revise” the agreement on the lease of the Saimaa Canal if Finland joins NATO, Izvestiya reported on Wednesday. [Shutterstock/AntonSAN]

Russia’s relations with Finland and Sweden will worsen if they join NATO, the First Deputy Chairman of the International Committee of the State Duma Dmitry Novikov said in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestiya, adding, this would not rule out cooperation in areas like economics and culture.

The State Duma may “revise” the agreement on the lease of the Saimaa Canal if Finland joins NATO, Izvestiya reported on Wednesday.

In the Izvestiya interview, Novikov also said that “as Russia’s relations with any country worsen, treaties concluded during a period of benevolent relations […] may be revised”.

The Russian embassy in Helsinki, was also quoted stating, “it will be necessary to take measures necessary to ensure Russian interests”.

The Saimaa Canal connects the Finnish lake Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland. Of the canal, some 20 kilometres are on the Russian side, which Finland has leased until 2063.

Speaking of future relations, in a somewhat contradictory tone, Novikov said that “the deterioration of Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm does not mean a complete severance of ties”.

“If we look at the configuration of Russia’s relations with European countries, we will see that they are very different. Although the vast majority of these countries have already been drawn into the NATO bloc,” said Novikov.

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