Russia warns to destabilize Europe amidst talks of the Nordic countries Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
Finland announced on Wednesday, April 11th, that it is considering membership in the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO) and will disclose in the upcoming weeks whether it should apply to join the institution.
Finland shares an 830-mile (1340-kilometer) border with Russia.
Sweden is also pondering the opportunity to join the military alliance. Though both nations are a part of the European Union (EU), they are transparent with their no-military alliance, with the EU organization as one entity.
The war with Ukraine is affecting Swedish and Finnish public opinion as recent polls are showing massive support for joining NATO. Finnish public advocacy for membership increased from 25 percent to nearly 70 percent, and it is a consequential result of the war against Ukraine.
Washington is believed to support the movement, and the integration of the two northern countries would increase NATO membership to 32 countries. Foreign ministers from Helsinki and Stockholm have spoken with NATO leaders to discuss the matter.
“The alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation,” Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Preskov recently told reporters.
According to BBC News, Russia demanded North Atlantic Trade Organization abstain from expansion, but the conflict has resulted in the deployment of troops to the eastern flanks, giving rise to Swedish and Finnish public support to join the alliance.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin hopes her government will conclude the membership discussion by midsummer. Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party secretary Tobias Baudin told local news the upcoming months should see the end of the discussions, stating that “when Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden’s security position changed fundamentally.”
Moscow has been insightful on its position, should the alliance expand. Kremlin Press Secretary Preskov cautioned that the organization “Is not that kind of alliance which ensures peace and stability, and its further expansion will not bring additional security to the European continent." Russia seeks to “rebalance the situation” if Finland and Sweden follow their plans to join the bloc.
In late February, Maria Zakharova, foreign ministry spokesman of Russia, warned of “military and political consequences,” if the security policies of both countries change in favor of NATO. “Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,” Zakharova stated in a press conference.
In contempt of Russian threats against NATO membership, both Sweden and Finland have increased their defense budget, with Helsinki planning to allocate $15 million to invest in drones for Finland’s military. Swedish officials have also informed about their plans to boost their defense spending by $315 million in 2022.
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