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15 Apr, 2022 12:55

Russia comments on outcome of Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Proposed accession to the bloc will harm northern Europe, including would-be allies, Moscow said
Russia comments on outcome of Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Sweden and Finland will lose part of their sovereignty while compromising their security if they join NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned on Friday, referring to the two nations’ expected requests for formal membership in the US-led military bloc.

Sweden and Finland have long been close to the organization but have maintained formal nonalignment with NATO since the Cold War. Both may soon apply for membership amid the ongoing security crisis in Ukraine. The Russian ministry warned that Sweden and Finland would not gain anything by moving forward with the plan.

NATO membership “is unlikely to help build Sweden’s and Finland’s international prestige,” spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a comment released by the Russian ministry. She said the two nations will lose the opportunity to act as “conveyors of many constructive, unifying initiatives” as they did in the past.

“Naturally the choice belongs to the authorities of Sweden and Finland. But they should realize the consequences of such a move to our bilateral relations and the European security architecture, which currently is in a state of crisis,” she added.

The official argued that the two nations would become platforms used by NATO to threaten Russia and that neither they, nor the region of northern Europe as a whole, would benefit from it. She added that NATO membership “implies de facto surrender of a part of sovereignty in making decisions on defense, and also on foreign policy.”

Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and prime minister, who is currently deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, implied earlier this week that, if the two nations joined the trans-Atlantic bloc Russia, would deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic region.

Finland and Russia have a 1,340-km-long land border. Finland used to be part of the Russian Empire before making a successful bid for independence when Russia was torn apart by the revolutions of 1917. The USSR and Finland fought a bloody war in 1939-1940 in the build-up to World War II that resulted in some territorial concessions on Helsinki’s part.

Sweden was Russia’s primary rival in northern Europe for several centuries, with the two powers fighting multiple wars for dominance. The conflict of 1808-1809 ended with the eastern part of the Kingdom of Sweden relinquished to Russia as the Grand Duchy of Finland.

Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.