Putin says ‘no problem’ with Finland, Sweden's NATO bid, but there’s a warning
Sweden's ruling Social Democratic Party approved the country's NATO bid on Sunday. It was followed by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson's announcement earlier in the day about Sweden's intent to join the military alliance, thereby making it official.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said his country Russia “does not have problems” if Finland and Sweden become members of the US-led military alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Putin said the Nordic countries' entry into the western alliance does not pose any “immediate threat” to his nation. His statement comes hours after Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her country will inform NATO about its intent to officially enter the military alliance, thereby following Finland's move.
He, however, added that NATO enlargement was being used by the US in an “aggressive” way to aggravate an already difficult global scenario, and that bolstering military infrastructure in the new Nordic members' territories would “certainly provoke our (Russia's) response”.
“What that (the response) will be - we will see what threats are created for us…Problems are being created for no reason at all. We shall react accordingly," the Russian President was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Putin's comments come hours after his deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Finland and Sweden are making “another grave mistake” by aspiring NATO membership. Ryabkhov also warned NATO and the US not to have any “illusions” that Russia will “simply put up with” the military alliance's Nordic expansion.
Sweden's ruling Social Democratic Party that has since the inception of NATO opposed the idea of the country joining the alliance had on Sunday given nod to the same. It was followed by Prime Minister Andersson's announcement earlier in the day, thus, making Sweden's intent to seek NATO membership official.
"We are leaving one era and beginning another," she said, adding that Sweden's NATO ambassador would "shortly" inform NATO.
Andersson further said that NATO will “strengthen Sweden (and) Sweden will strengthen NATO”.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and the country's President Sauli Niinisto announced on Sunday that they will officially submit their applications to join NATO.
Leaders and officials of the Nordic nations have said Putin has no one to blame but himself for their decision to join NATO. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt tweeted a picture of a fake award for the Russian president as “NATO salesman of the year”. These comments come amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine entering the third month in May. Putin has repeatedly cited the post-Soviet expansion of the NATO alliance in the east towards its borders as a reason for the invasion of Ukraine - the biggest war in an European nation since the Second World War.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that the country will not say yes to Finland and Sweden's NATO bid.
(With inputs from Reuters, AFP)