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SWEDEN AND RUSSIA

Sweden joining Nato ‘no problem for Russia’

Russia has "no problem" if Finland and Sweden join Nato, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Sweden joining Nato 'no problem for Russia'
Vladimir Putin speaks to the media at 6th Caspian Summit in Ashgabat on June 29. Photo: Dmitry Azarov/Sputnik/AFP

“We don’t have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine,” Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat.

“We don’t have territorial differences. There is nothing that could bother us about Sweden and Finland joining Nato. If Finland and Sweden wish to, they can join. That’s up to them. They can join whatever they want.”

However, “if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us,” Putin said.

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Sweden and Finland have both decided to apply to join Nato after Russia launched its military operation in pro-Western Ukraine on February 24. The formal process for membership was launched at the Nato summit in Madrid on Wednesday.

Until now, Russia had always been critical of the prospect of the two Nordic countries joining the alliance, saying it would be a “destabilising factor” for international security. Putin nevertheless condemned Nato’s “imperial ambitions”, accusing the alliance of seeking to assert its “supremacy” through the Ukraine conflict.

“Ukraine and the well-being of Ukrainian people is not the aim of the collective West and Nato but a means to defend their own interests,” Putin said. “The Nato countries’ leaders wish to… assert their supremacy, their imperial ambitions.” 

The Atlantic alliance and “above all the United States have long needed an external enemy around which they can unite their allies,” the Russian leader said. “Iran wasn’t good for that. We’ve given them this opportunity… to gather the whole world around them.”

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NATO

US President Biden signs ratification of Swedish Nato bid

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed US ratification of bids by Finland and Sweden to enter Nato, taking expansion of the Western alliance in response to Russia's Ukraine invasion one step closer.

US President Biden signs ratification of Swedish Nato bid

Biden said the two northern European countries would become “strong, reliable highly capable new allies” by making the “sacred commitment” to
mutual defense in the US-led transatlantic alliance.

Earlier this month, the Senate voted 95-1 in favor of the Nordic states’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 NATO countries to give formal endorsement. Unanimous support is needed for new membership.

Biden, who has made restoring traditional US alliances a cornerstone of his administration after Donald Trump’s move to upend ties around the world,
praised NATO as “the foundation of American security.”

“The United States is committed to the transatlantic alliance.”

Biden also praised Finland and Sweden, saying both have “strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies” that
would now bolster NATO.

President Vladimir Putin’s Russia “shattered peace and security in Europe” by invading Ukraine, Biden said. “Putin thought he could break us apart…. Instead, he is getting exactly what he did not want.”

The White House said that ahead of the signing ceremony, Biden talked by telephone with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland’s
President Sauli Niinisto.

“President Biden congratulated them on the US Senate’s swift, bipartisan ratification of their NATO accession protocols, and welcomed Finland and Sweden moving one step closer to becoming NATO Allies,” the White House said.

While the process plays out, “President Biden affirmed that the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or threat of aggression,” the statement said.

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