‘We will be forced to take retaliatory measures,’ says Russia if Finland joins NATO.
Russia has threatened Finland with repercussions if it joins the Transatlantic military alliance, NATO.
On Thursday, May 12, Finland’s president and prime minister, Sauli Niinisto, announced support for joining NATO, bringing the country one step closer to joining the US-led military alliance.
Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia, and one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine was to prevent Ukraine, Russia’s close neighbour, from joining NATO.
Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Marin said in a joint statement: “Membership in NATO would increase Finland’s security. Finland’s membership in NATO would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership as soon as possible. We hope that the remaining national steps required to make this decision will be taken quickly in the coming days.”
The Kremlin responded by calling the move a threat to Russia and threatening retaliation.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the Finnish statement a “radical shift in the country’s foreign policy” and threatened retaliation.
“Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move,” the ministry said. Finland’s possible accession to NATO would cause serious damage to bilateral Russian-Finnish relations, which are vital to maintaining stability and security in Northern Europe.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both military-technical and other in nature,” it said, “in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard.”
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, also stated that Finland joining NATO would not increase security.
“As we have repeatedly stated, NATO expansion does not increase world stability and security,” Peskov told reporters. He went on to say that Russia’s reaction would be determined by NATO activity near its borders.
“It will depend on what this expansion process entails, how far and close the military infrastructure will move,” Peskov said.
On a regular conference call with reporters, Peskov also stated, “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 respond with “the most decisive response” to those who attempt to participate in the country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.