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17 Dec, 2023 20:11

Putin announces response to Finland joining NATO

Helsinki has not had any “trouble” with Moscow for years but now it will, the Russian president has said
Putin announces response to Finland joining NATO

Russia will create a new military district to reinforce its positions near Finland in response to the latter's decision to join NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced.

Putin made the remarks in an interview with Russian journalist Pavel Zarubin that aired on Sunday, stating that Helsinki has not had any real “trouble” with Moscow for decades already – but now it will.

“They took and dragged Finland into NATO. Did we have any disputes with Finland? All disputes, including those of a territorial nature in the mid-20th century, have long been resolved,” Putin stated, noting that Russia does not actually have territorial disputes with any NATO member state.

To counter the expansion of the US-led bloc, Russia is set to create the brand new Leningrad Military District. As the name would indicate, the new force will be stationed in Leningrad Region in the northwestern part of the country, where the city of St. Petersburg – known as Leningrad during the Soviet Union – is located.

There was no trouble. Now there will be. We will now create the Leningrad Military District and concentrate certain military units there. Why do they need this, it’s just nonsense.

Prior to Finland’s decision to join NATO, the two countries enjoyed “the most cordial” relationship, Putin added. The only “minor trouble” Moscow and Helsinki have had was business disputes revolving around the timber-processing industry, the president noted.

Finland announced its decision to join NATO months after the conflict between Ukraine and Russia erupted in February 2022. In April of this year, the country became a full-fledged member of the US-led bloc. Moscow has repeatedly said that Finland’s decision was “wrong” given the fact that the neighboring countries had not had any unresolved bilateral issues.

Last week, Helsinki announced plans to sign a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the US, allowing Washington to station troops and stockpile weapons and ammunition in the country. The Finnish Foreign Ministry said Helsinki will open 15 zones across the country in which Washington will be provided with “unimpeded access and use.”