Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a “grave mistake”, warns Russia

BRUSSELS (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Russia has warned Sweden and Finland that joining the Nato military alliance is a grave mistake with far-reaching repercussions, and that they should not expect Moscow to remain silent.

The Finnish government announced its intention of joining Nato on Sunday, while Sweden’s ruling party agreed to withdraw its long-standing objections, clearing the way for a unified membership application to be submitted within days.

The two countries’ actions, which have both stayed non-aligned or neutral since the end of WWII, signal a historic redrawing of Europe’s security map, caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

On Monday, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, stated that of course, the situation was shifting significantly in light of what was happening. It was apparent to them that the security of Finland and Sweden would not be strengthened as a result of that.

Ryabkov went on to say that the two Nordic countries “should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it,” further warning that the decision was “another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences” and the “general level of military tension will increase”.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, also warned on Monday that Moscow would watch very carefully the ramifications of the Nordic states’ move “for our security, which must be ensured in an absolutely unconditional manner”.

Russia has warned both countries against joining Nato many times, claiming that doing so would force it to “establish military balance” in the Baltic Sea region, including the deployment of nuclear weapons.

The Finnish and Swedish parliaments started debating the subject on Monday, with the Helsinki session expected to continue several days. While 85 percent of Finland’s 200 lawmakers support joining, 150 have asked to speak, and a vote is not likely until Monday.

Sanna Marin, the prime minister, launched the debate on Monday by saying that their security environment had profoundly changed. Russia was the only country that posed a threat to European security and was now openly waging an aggressive war.

Magdalena Andersson, the prime minister, told MPs in Stockholm that a historic change in their country’s security policy was occurring and that Sweden needed the formal security assurances that came with Nato membership.

Unfortunately, they had no reason to anticipate that the current trend [in Russia’s actions] would be reversed in the near future, she continued. The Swedish government is likely to make a formal decision to join the alliance later on Monday.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, will pay an official visit to Stockholm, implying that the two Nordic neighbours’ joint application to join the alliance might be formally presented within the next three days.

The countries would be “welcomed with open arms” and admission would be swift, according to Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, though Turkish concerns could slow the process, which demands consensus among members.

The defence minister of Sweden, Peter Hultqvist, said on Monday that Stockholm was attempting to allay Ankara’s concerns over Sweden’s support for the Kurdish PKK, which Turkey, the EU, and the US have blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.

They would send a group of diplomats to Turkey to hold meetings and have a dialogue so that they could figure out how to fix that and what that was truly about, Hultqvist added.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s foreign minister, called for Sweden and Finland to act quickly before a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Their goal was to be one of the first nations to ratify Finland and Sweden’s accession, because they knew that the time between the accession demand and ratification needed to be shortened, she said.

They needed to meet that moment, that was historic, and it was way more significant than any bilateral issues, Joly said of her discussions with Turkey.

Both NATO and the United States have stated that Turkey will not obstruct Sweden’s admission. On Sunday, Stoltenberg said that he was convinced they would be able to address the concerns Turkey had voiced in a way that didn’t postpone membership.