Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Archive
- President Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia will respond if NATO strengthens its military infrastructure in the area.
- Putin said Russia had no problems with Sweden and Finland.
- He said the response would depend on what threats were posed to Russia.
President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that there would be no threat to Russia if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, but warned that Moscow would respond if the US-led alliance strengthened military infrastructure in the new northern members.
Putin, Russia’s main leader since 1999, has repeatedly called NATO’s post-Soviet expansion eastward into Russia’s borders the cause of the conflict in Ukraine.
But Putin, who has been brandishing a Russian nuclear sword in the West over Ukraine in recent months, has reacted unusually calmly to Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership, the biggest strategic consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to date.
“As for enlargement, Russia has no problems with these states – no. And in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from enlargement (NATO) to include these countries,” Putin told Russian-dominated military leaders. union of former Soviet states.
Putin, however, warned NATO of the recently found peace.
But expanding the military infrastructure to this area would certainly provoke our reaction.
“What will be the answer? Let’s see what threats they pose to us,” Putin told the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Kremlin leader’s extremely calm response to one of Russia’s most sensitive geopolitical concerns – NATO’s post-Soviet enlargement – contrasts with the harsher statements of his foreign ministry and senior allies.
Prior to Putin’s speech, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rabkov said the West should have no illusions that Moscow would simply accept NATO’s enlargement to the Nordic countries. These comments were still heard on state television.
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One of Putin’s closest allies, former President Dmitry Medvedev, said last month that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave if Finland and Sweden join NATO.
NO NATO PROBLEMS
Speaking at the Grand Kremlin Palace, Putin delivered a short speech addressing NATO and scolding the United States for setting up biological laboratories in the former Soviet Union.
Putin said Russia had evidence that the United States was trying to create biological weapons components in Ukraine, which Washington and Kyiv deny.
In addition to the “endless policy of enlargement”, Putin said that the alliance goes far beyond its Euro-Atlantic powers – a trend which, according to him, Russia is carefully following.
Moscow says NATO is a threat to Russia, and that Washington has repeatedly ignored the Kremlin’s concerns about the security of its borders in the West, the source of two devastating European invasions in 1812 and 1941.
Putin says a “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the United States has used Ukraine to threaten Russia through NATO enlargement, and Moscow has had to defend itself against persecution by Russian-speaking people.
Putin says that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, assurances were given that the alliance would not expand eastward towards Russia, a promise he considered a lie.
The United States and NATO deny that such assurances were given directly. Kyiv and its Western supporters say Moscow’s claim of persecution of Russian-speakers has been exaggerated as a pretext for an unprovoked war against a sovereign state.
The West says NATO, an alliance of 30 countries, including the former Warsaw Pact republics such as Poland and Hungary, as well as nuclear powers such as the United States, Britain and France, is purely defensive.
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