War in Ukraine: Medvedev warns Finland and Sweden: “Non-nuclear status of the Baltic States” ends when NATO joins
Berlin If Finland and Sweden join NATO, Russia threatens to station nuclear weapons on the Baltic border and to significantly increase Russian troops in the region. This was announced by former Russian President and current Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, in Moscow on Thursday.
If the two Scandinavian countries were included in the Western Defense Alliance, there would be “serious strengthening of ground forces and air defense and the deployment of extensive naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland”.
The politician specifically threatened the stationing of “Iskander” missiles, hypersonic weapons and warships with nuclear weapons – for the Finns and Swedes, for example, within range “of their own homes”. “We want to hope that common sense will prevail on the part of the northern partners,” said Medvedev. But if not, then Russia will act.
Medvedev wrote on the social network Telegram that there would then no longer be any talk of a non-nuclear status in the Baltic States. Military experts point out, however, that Russia has long since stationed Iskander-type missiles in the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.
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“Perhaps the world will soon become even more insecure, i.e. by the summer of this year,” said a confidante of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. NATO had signaled its willingness to quickly accept the two countries.
“It means that Russia will have more officially registered opponents,” Medvedev said. Moscow will react to this with a “cool head”. For Russia, if Finland joins NATO, the national border to NATO territory will more than double. These borders would then have to be secured, also by means of anti-aircraft defense and a massive naval presence. So far, Russia has been able to do without such steps.
Medvedev said that regardless of the conflict in Ukraine, NATO had previously tried to expand its sphere of influence to these countries. At the same time he made it clear that Sweden and Finland had nothing to fear. “We don’t have territorial disputes with these countries like we have with Ukraine. That’s why the price of membership is different for us,” said Medvedev.
Because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the attitude of Finland and Sweden, which have been non-aligned for decades, has changed fundamentally. For the first time, a clear majority of the population is in favor of joining NATO. Of the EU countries, Finland has the longest border with Russia, at over 1,300 kilometers.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday after consultations with her Swedish Social Democrat counterpart Magdalena Andersson that the decision on Finland’s NATO membership application was a matter “of weeks, not months”.
>> Read also: Prime Minister Marin expects a Finnish NATO decision in a few weeks
Medvedev recently said that Russia “generally doesn’t care that much” how many countries there are in NATO – 30 or 32. But Western military experts see this as a deliberate attempt to unsettle with false statements.
In fact, Russia has repeatedly issued drastic threats in the event of NATO expansion. At the end of 2021, Moscow presented the United States and other members of the alliance with a draft security agreement that ultimately ruled out NATO expansion.
In addition, Russia called for the military infrastructure in the NATO member states of Eastern Europe that had been created after the collapse of the Soviet Union to be removed. The Kremlin also wanted to force a withdrawal of US troops and nuclear weapons from Europe.
The NATO states rejected this in several rounds of negotiations in January, but offered talks on disarmament and a new security architecture in Europe. The Russian Foreign Ministry then confirmed in writing on February 17 that Russia was not preparing an attack on Ukraine. Seven days later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
There is also heightened tension in the Balkans over possible NATO membership. A few weeks ago, the Russian ambassador in Sarajevo, Igor Kalabuchow, warned that Bosnia-Herzegovina could see what would happen if the country wanted to join NATO using Ukraine as an example. Bosnia, which is fragmented into a Serb, a Croat and a Bosnian-Muslim part, is the only remaining country in the Balkans besides Serbia that is not a NATO member.
The Moscow-backed Serb leader in Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, openly threatens a secession of the Serb part. This would thwart NATO membership, because the alliance does not accept any states with territorial conflicts. Unlike Ukraine, Bosnia is part of the Membership Action Plan, the preparatory program for joining NATO.
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