Russia warns of nuclear escalation if Sweden joins Nato

Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that if Sweden joined Nato, it would mean the end of "nuclear-free status for the Baltic", in the toughest threat yet from Moscow.

Russia warns of nuclear escalation if Sweden joins Nato
Russian Iskander missiles, such as those already in Kalingrad, are tested during an exercise in Russia. Photo: TT

Writing on his channel on the messaging app Telegram, Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, said that the Baltic Region could no longer remain non-nuclear if Finland and Sweden join the defence alliance. 

“If this is done, no non-nuclear status of the Baltic will be possible,” Medvedev said. “The balance must be restored.” The result for Sweden and Finland, he continued, would be nuclear-armed Russian ships just “arm’s length” from their homes.

“Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” he added. 

The prime ministers of Finland and Sweden on Wednesday shifted the process leading to Nato memberships up a gear, with Finland’s Sanna Marin declaring that a decision would be taken “within weeks, not months”, and Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson revealing that she wanted to get a decision taken in time for it not to clash with Sweden’s election campaign. 

As well as the nuclear threat, Medvedev warned that Finland joining Nato would force Russia to post more troops and weapons to its northwestern border with Finland. 

“If Sweden and Finland join Nato, the length of the alliance’s land borders with Russia will more than double,” he said. “Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened.” 

As for Sweden, Medvedev said that Russia would have to “seriously strengthen the grouping of ground forces and air defence (and) deploy significant naval forces in the Gulf of Finland”.

Follow the national Nato debate with The Local’s podcast, Sweden in Focus.

Lithuanian Defence Minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, expressed bewilderment that Medvedev was threatening Sweden with a nuclear Baltic when it was common knowledge that it has deployed nuclear-armed Iskander cruise missiles in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, since at least 2016. 

“The current Russian threats look quite strange when we know that, even without the present security situation, they keep the weapons 100km from Lithuania’s border,” the minister said.

“Nuclear weapons have always been kept in Kaliningrad. The international community, the countries in the region, are perfectly aware of this. They use it as a threat.” 

Member comments

  1. Sweden and Finland need to decide if their going to let Russia bully them or make their own decisions.
    Are you going to let Russia decide all the decision for your country and its people? I would think not. Time to stand up and not be frightened by a nation that kill innocent civilians and lies to its own people and controls the lies in the media.
    If Sweden and Norway join NATO both countries will be stronger and united with the rest of the western civilised world.

  2. I find that Swedes are one of the most stubborn and misinformed people in Europe . Life has been too easy for them , and the debate over Ukraine and NATO is a total waste of time as they think they know everything but actually know nothing . It’s sad and to get three warnings from Russia and think it’s a joke that nothing will happen or when they laugh that they have Bomb Bunkers in their homes , shows total ignorance to the danger NATO membership will bring upon their heads . They have lost their Neutrality status , that is no longer associated with Sweden since they started sending military equipment to Ukraine . When you try and discuss this with a supposedly intelligent Swede , they don’t want to hear anything that contradicts the pictures and films they see on Swedish Television . Best of Luck .

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Swedish PM and opposition leader announce decision to join Nato

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has announced her government's decision to take Sweden into Nato, ending two centuries of military non-alignment.

Swedish PM and opposition leader announce decision to join Nato

In a joint press conference held with Ulf Kristersson, leader of the opposition Moderate Party, Andersson said joining the alliance would act as a deterrent against Russian aggression. 

“The government has decided to inform Nato that Sweden wants to become a member of the alliance,” Andersson told reporters a day after neighbouring Finland made a similar announcement.

“We are leaving one era and beginning another,” she said, adding that Sweden’s Nato ambassador would “shortly” inform Nato.

Ulf Kristersson, whose party has long supported membership of the alliance, said that he wanted to put party political differences aside to support the government in its decision.  

“There are many major issues where we think differently, but we are going to take a joint responsibility for the process of taking Sweden into Nato,” he said. 

Sweden and Finland have both expressed a desire to act in lockstep on NATO membership and submit their applications jointly.

“We expect it shouldn’t take more than a year” for the alliance’s 30 members to unanimously ratify Sweden’s membership application, Andersson said.

The announcement was expected after her Social Democratic party on Sunday backed membership, in a dramatic turnaround after having opposed the idea since the birth of the Western military alliance.

It came after a debate in parliament in which all parties apart from the Green Party and Left Party spoke in favour of Sweden joining the alliance.  

“It is now clear that there is a broad majority in Sweden’s parliament for Sweden joining Nato,” she said. 

After Sweden’s announcement, Denmark, Norway and Iceland published a joint statement in which they promised to Sweden “by all means necessary” if the country is attacked in the gap between application and admission to the alliance. 

“Should Finland or Sweden be victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining Nato membership, we will assist Finland and Sweden by all means necessary,” the three countries said. “We immediately initiate preparations in order to effectuate these security assurances.”

Sweden’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist is flying to Washington, where he will meet his counterpart Lloyd Austin.