The end of Finland’s military neutrality with the country’s entry into NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) would be a “mistake”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today. The comment was made by the Russian leader in a telephone conversation with his Finnish namesake, Sauli Niinisto, according to a statement released by the Kremlin.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that ending the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, as there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Russian government said in a statement.
Finland’s bid for NATO membership, which Moscow displeases especially after Ukraine also tried to start joining the bloc in the midst of the war, should be made official on Sunday.
“Such a change in the country’s political orientation could have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations that developed over years in a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation and were to the advantage of both,” the Kremlin added.
Niinisto, in turn, released a statement in which he said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “altered the security environment in Finland” and that the Scandinavian country will submit its application to join the Western military alliance “in the coming days”.
“The conversation was direct and frank and was conducted without irritation. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” said the Finnish leader, who took the initiative to call the Kremlin.
Also according to the statement, Niinisto stressed that, by joining NATO, Finland will “strengthen its own security and assume its responsibilities”. “Also in the future, Finland wants to take care of the practical issues arising from being Russia’s neighbor in a correct and professional manner.”
Finland wants accession ‘without delay’
Finland’s president and prime minister, Sanna Marin, announced last Thursday (12) that they were in favor of the country joining the bloc “without delay”. In reaction to this move, Russia said it “will be forced to take retaliatory measures”.
Finland, which has 1,300 kilometers of land borders with Russia, had already been signaling its intention to give up the neutrality adopted after the bitter defeat by the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Neighboring Sweden’s 200 years of military neutrality may also be over.
Russian Chancellor Reacts With Threats
After Finland’s statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, reacted with threats, through his official Telegram channel.
“Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move. Finland’s accession to NATO will cause serious damage to Russian-Finnish bilateral relations, which maintain stability and security in the Nordic region,” said the chancellor.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to prevent threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” he added.
Sweden also plans to join NATO
A day after Finland, Sweden confirmed that it will also apply to join the US-led military alliance.
Chancellor Ann Linde said the country is ready to abandon neutrality and that joining NATO will stabilize conflicts in the Baltic Sea.
Sweden’s parliament will debate the security situation on Monday and Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will convene a special cabinet meeting where the formal candidacy decision will be taken, the newspaper said. expressciting unidentified sources.
An order will be sent directly after that, assuming nothing unexpected happens, sources told the paper.
* With information from AFP and Ansa