Russia's warning on NATO Nordic expansion: 'Won't simply put up with...'

NEW DELHIEdited By: Nikhil PandeyUpdated: May 16, 2022, 08:18 PM IST
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FILE PHOTO: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news briefing on SSC-8/9M729 cruise missile system at Patriot Expocentre near Moscow, Russia January 23, 2019. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Russia has given few specific clues about what it will do in response to the Nordic enlargement of NATO, the biggest strategic consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to date.

Russia said on Monday that the West should not have any "illusions" that the Kremlin will simply accept the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Nordic expansion (NATO). This comes a day after Russia's neighbours Finland and Sweden announced that they will submit formal NATO membership bids.

President Vladimir Putin stated on Monday that Russia has no objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but that the construction of military equipment on their soil would need a response from Moscow. 

Putin, addressing at a summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Moscow, said NATO's expansion was a concern for Russia, and that the country needed to pay close attention to the US-led military alliance's efforts to expand its global influence.

Since the last day of 1999, Vladimir Putin, Russia's supreme leader, has repeatedly highlighted NATO's post-Soviet enlargement eastwards into Russia's borders as a rationale for the invasion of Ukraine.

NATO, founded in 1949 to provide European security against the Soviet Union, ultimately outguns Russia in almost every military measure apart from nuclear weapons, though the backbone of the alliance's military power is the United States - whose forces are mostly deployed far from Europe.

The battle, on the other hand, has sparked one of the most significant transformations in Europe's security architecture in decades: Sweden and Finland, which share a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia, joining the military alliance.

"They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it - and nor should Brussels, Washington and other NATO capitals," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the state RIA news agency.

"The general level of military tension will rise, predictability in this sphere will decrease. It is a shame that common sense is being sacrificed to some phantom provision about what should be done in this unfolding situation," Ryabkov said.

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Ryabkov, who oversaw talks with the US on a fatal Russian proposal to limit NATO's eastward expansion, said Helsinki and Stockholm's choice to join the alliance was a mistake.

Russia has given few hints as to what it would do in reaction to NATO's Nordic enlargement, stating only that a "military-technical retaliation" will be taken.

Last month, one of Putin's closest allies stated that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, Russia may place nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.