Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (2008-2012) said Thursday that his country could not sit down and watch if Finland and Sweden were to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and hinted a nuclear-free Baltic region would no longer be possible
“If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the alliance’s land borders with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened,” the former head of state and current deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on his official Telegram channel.
Vladimir Putin's Government would have to “seriously strengthen the grouping of land forces and air defense, deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland; in this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic - the balance must be restored,” Medvedev stressed.
The Russian leader's remarks came after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden would be warmly welcomed! if they decided to apply for membership within the military alliance.
I expect the process to go quickly, Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. He also said he was also confident things would go smoothly between the proposed application and the formal ratification by the parliaments of all 30 NATO members.
I am confident that there are ways to bridge that interim period in a way which is good enough and works for both Finland and Sweden, Stoltenberg said. Public support for NATO membership in the two Scandinavian countries has been growing since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. They both have common borders with Russia. Finland's border alone is 1,340 kilometers long. Both Finland and Sweden have historically pursued a non-alignment policy. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, NATO has failed to win over the two countries several times. But in the end Finland and Sweden are our closest partners, Stoltenberg insisted. Both countries have already left their 100% neutrality and took part in delivering weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.
We know that their armed forces meet NATO standards, are interoperable with NATO forces. We train together, we exercise together and we have also worked together with Finland and Sweden in many different missions and operations, Stoltenberg said.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month that NATO's further expansion would not contribute to security in Europe. In itself, the alliance is rather a tool sharpened for confrontation. This is not an alliance that ensures peace and stability. Further expansion of the alliance, of course, will not bring additional security to the European continent.
According to recent surveys, citizens of both Finland and Sweden favor their countries joining the military bloc.