Russia sends ominous warning on ‘destruction’ of Finland in major threat
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine, partly cited as a defence measure by the Kremlin against NATO activities in Ukraine, has made countries like Finland and Sweden rethink membership in the alliance. Opinion polls in Finland show that the public in the Nordic country now favours joining the transatlantic pact.
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, after attending a NATO meeting in Brussels, told reporters: “There we come to a situation in which we may need cooperation.”
On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would “rebalance the situation” with its own actions if Finland and Sweden join NATO.
Vladimir Dzhabarov, a Russian senator since 2009, warned that Finland joining NATO would be a “terrible tragedy” that would make it a valid “target”.
He added that such a move could ensure the “destruction of their country”.
He said: “If the leadership of Finland goes for it, it will be a strategic mistake.
“Finland, which has been successfully developing all these years thanks to close trade and economic ties with Russia, would become a target.
“I think it [would be] a terrible tragedy for the entire Finnish people.”
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Haavisto referenced the upcoming NATO summit in June, saying the Finnish government would clarify their position on the country’s NATO application in the next few weeks.
He commented: “There is an important NATO summit in Madrid in June.
“Of course, NATO is wondering whether Finland and possibly Sweden will have submitted their membership applications before that.”
This echoed the sentiments of Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, who said that the choice to join NATO, or not to submit an application to the alliance, are “both” decisions “that have consequences”.
She said: “We need to assess both the short-term and long-term effects.
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“At the same time, we must keep in mind our goal: ensuring the security of Finland and Finns in all situations.”
Finland’s relationship with Russia was irrevocably altered after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and this will take “a lot of time and work for confidence to be restored”, she added.
Back in March, a department director for the Russian Foreign Ministry said “retaliatory measures” could be on the table if Finland or Sweden joined the alliance.
Sergei Belyayev told the Interfax news agency: “It is obvious that Finland and Sweden’s joining NATO, which is a military organization in the first place, would have serious military and political consequences requiring use to revise the entire range of relations with these countries and take retaliatory measures.”
Finland shares a border with Russia, stretching over 810 miles, or 1,300 kilometres.
It is the European Union member state with the longest border with Russia.
It has a history of military-non alignment, straddling its unique geographical – and geopolitical – position.
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