Russia issues fresh warning to NATO candidates
Moscow will have to ramp up its “capabilities” in the northwest if NATO installations appear in Finland and Sweden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. The top diplomat made the remarks on Thursday as he met students and staff at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).
“If [NATO] bases are created on the territory of Finland and Sweden, or rather, if they decide to create these bases for them – I am convinced that the Americans will have the key word ... Depending on how all of this materializes, of course, we will make a decision to strengthen our capabilities in Russia’s northwest,” Lavrov stated, without providing any further details.
In any case, launching NATO bases in the territory of the two Nordic nations would “radically” expand the “line of contact” between Russia and the alliance, the minister added.
Finland and Sweden scrambled to join the US-led bloc earlier this year, citing the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. While formally keeping a neutral status for decades, the two Nordic nations have been closely cooperating with the military alliance for a long time now.
The accession process ran into a deadlock after a major NATO country, Turkey, objected to the plans to accept Sweden and Finland. Ankara accused the two countries of functioning as “guesthouses for terrorist organizations” and hosting members of outlawed Kurdish groups it deems to be “terrorists.”
The deadlock was ultimately resolved in June during the NATO summit in Madrid after a series of intense negotiations. Turkey agreed to formally back the accession of Stockholm and Helsinki to the military bloc on the condition that they crack down on groups Ankara deems to be “terrorists” and address other bilateral issues, such as an arms embargo. Deliberations on how precisely to implement the agreement, however, are still ongoing.