After promising to ramp up its nuclear defenses in the Baltic, Russia has promised ‘the most negative repercussions’ if Sweden and Finland join NATO. The Kremlin’s bullying rhetoric is getting louder, with Alexander Grushko’s new remarks echoing earlier Moscow claims that NATO membership would assure the two countries’ ‘destruction.’ ‘There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic – the balance must be restored,’ Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, stated earlier today. ‘We will, of course, have to fortify these frontiers.’ Russia has not taken, and will not take, such actions until now. If our hand is forced, remember that we did not suggest this.’
Russia would’seriously reinforce its group of ground soldiers and air defenses, as well as deploy considerable naval forces in the Gulf of Finland,’ according to the former president. The threat comes after Sweden and Finland moved closer to joining NATO yesterday, with their application bids expected to be presented in the coming weeks. Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, is said to be eager for the country to join the trans-Atlantic alliance by June, much to the chagrin of Vladimir Putin, who attacked Ukraine in part because of the country’s ambition to join the agreement. When asked about the journalistic statements, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that “this has been discussed about many times” and that Putin has issued an order to “reinforce our western flank” due to NATO’s rising military might.
‘I can’t say…’ Peskov responded when asked if this reinforcement would include nuclear weapons. There will be a long list of actions and steps that must be taken. The president will address this at a separate meeting.’ Despite their close alignment with the West, Finland and Sweden have generally resisted NATO membership in order to avoid provoking Russia. However, when Russia initiated the conflict with a bombardment of rhetoric about blocking NATO expansion, public opinion in the Scandinavian countries has shifted dramatically. Andersson met with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Stockholm yesterday to discuss their future alliance memberships, which came on the heels of the release of a Finnish government report on international security, which sparked their potential bid.
Swedish sources reported yesterday that the Swedish application will be made at the NATO meeting in Madrid on June 29-20. Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has stated that the country hopes to begin its application process “within weeks, not months.” Finland also confirmed today that personnel from the UK, the US, Latvia, and Estonia will take part in a military drill in Western Finland. Despite Moscow legislator Vladimir Dzhabarov’s recent warning that it would lead to the country’s “destruction,” this has happened.
Since World War II, Finland and Sweden have maintained military neutrality. Throughout the war, Sweden maintained its policy of neutrality, which had been in place since the early 1800s, in order to avoid being drawn into the conflict engulfing Germany and the Soviet Union. Instead, Sweden reaped the benefits of its neutrality by supplying iron ore to the Nazis, exchanging military intelligence with the Allies, and training refugee warriors. Meanwhile, Finland switched sides in the war, first being invaded by Joseph Stalin and supporting the Nazis, then battling Hitler’s forces. When NATO was created in 1949 as a Western military alliance, Sweden chose not to join and instead maintained its neutrality, implementing a security policy that ensured its non-alignment in peace and neutrality in conflict. Stockholm joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 1994, but has yet to express a desire to officially join the alliance.
Finland is likewise a member of the PfP, but it has expressed a similar wish to remain neutral since the conflict. The EU member state was once part of the Russian Empire and gained independence during the 1917 Russian revolution. but it came dangerously close to losing it during World War Two, when it was pitted against the Soviet Union. Finland hoped to keep out of future conflicts after being invaded by Russia in 1939 and sharing a long border with the superpower, allowing it to maintain a good connection with Moscow and the West while also enjoying a free market economy. On Thursday, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said the Russian threat to beef up military, including nuclear, presence in the Baltic region was “nothing new.”