We shall respond: Putin threatens Finland, Sweden over NATO membership

President Putin

President Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is not immediately threatened by Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

But he said his country will take military countermeasures if NATO stationed military infrastructure in the two countries.

He stated this on Thursday while speaking with journalists during a visit to Turkmenistan.

“There is nothing to worry us in terms of Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO.

“They must clearly understand that previously there were no threats to them, but if troops were stationed there and infrastructure established, we will have to respond accordingly.

“And they will also make the same threats to the territory from where threats to us are coming,’’ he said, according to the Russian TASS news agency.

“Everything is good between us, but now there will be some tension, that is obvious and there is no doubt about that, it can’t go any other way,’’ Putin said.

Russia had earlier threatened that there would be consequences when it first learnt of Finland and Sweden’s plans to join NATO.

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The two countries decided to abandon decades of neutrality and joined the defence alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The membership process was initiated at the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday.

Putin stressed that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would be quite different to Ukraine being granted membership.

It denied that Russia had triggered Finland and Sweden’s volte-face on NATO membership through its vehement opposition to Ukraine’s own plans to join the alliance.

Putin accused the West of trying to turn Ukraine into an anti-Russia that it would use to destabilise Russia and attack its culture.

“That would not be the case with Finland and Sweden,” he added.

dpa/NAN

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