Russia threatens Sweden and Finland over NATO membership, again

Russia repeated its threat of retaliation on Saturday (12 March) if Sweden and Finland ever decide to join NATO, warning of “serious military and political consequences”. [Alexandros Michaillidis, Shutterstock]

A spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry has issued another warning to both Sweden and Finland warning them not to join NATO.

Russia repeated its threat of retaliation on Saturday (12 March) if Sweden and Finland ever decide to join NATO, warning of “serious military and political consequences”.

“It is obvious that [if] Finland and Sweden join NATO, which is a military organisation to begin with, there will be serious military and political consequences,” Sergei Belyayev, head of the Russian foreign ministry’s European department, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

“[It] would require changing the whole palette of relations with these countries and require retaliatory measures,” he added, echoing a threat made by Russia the day after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.

“We shy away from such statements. The Swedish security policy is determined by Sweden. Russia has nothing to do with our independent decisions,” Ann Linde stated in a written comment to the tabloid Dagens Industri.

However, in Sweden, the Social Democrats in power have done everything they could to hold out against the growing public support for membership of NATO.

Last week, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson emphasised that joining NATO would destabilise an already fragile security situation. However, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and Foreign Minister Ann Linde have made the government’s position clear, saying Sweden should not join NATO.

Some of Sweden’s Baltic neighbours do not share this opinion, as Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stressed in an interview with the Swedish radio Ekot Saturday.

“I disagree. It would stabilise us. It would send a clear message that we are not giving in to military threats.”, Landsbergis said, adding that “If Sweden and Finland were to join, it would increase security in the region.”

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