Russia has threatened Finland with consequences if the Nordic nation goes ahead to join the Transatlantic military alliance, NATO.
Finland’s president and prime minister, Sauli Niinisto announced support for joining NATO on Thursday, May 12 moving the country a step closer to joining the US-led military alliance.
Finland shares a 800-mile border with Russia and one of the reasons Russia gave for invading Ukraine was to stop Ukraine, a close neighbor of Russia from joining NATO.
In the joint statement, Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Marin said: “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
The Kremlin responded by saying the move would be a threat to Russia and warned of possible retaliation.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the Finnish statement marked a “radical change in the country’s foreign policy” and warned of countermeasures.
“Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move,”
Finland’s possible accession to NATO would cause serious damage to bilateral Russian-Finnish relations, which are maintaining stability and security in the Northern European region, the ministry said.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” it said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also said that Finland joining NATO would not contribute to more security.
“As we have said many times before, NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure,” Peskov told reporters. He added that Russia’s reaction would depend on NATO activity near its borders.
“It will depend on what this expansion process will entail, how far and how close to our borders the military infrastructure will move,” Peskov said.
Peskov also told reporters on a regular conference call that: “Everyone wants to avoid a direct clash between Russia and NATO: both Russia and NATO, and, most importantly, Washington.” He added, however, that Russia will be ready to give “the most decisive response” to those who would try to get involved in the country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.