Don't Join NATO, Russia Warns Finland, Sweden

Both nations are conducting reviews in light of the invasion of Ukraine
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2022 5:11 PM CDT
Don't Join NATO, Russia Warns Finland, Sweden
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto of Finland speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

With polls showing public support for the move has nearly doubled in both countries since the invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland are talking about joining NATO. Don't do that, Russia warned Monday. "The alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, the BBC reports. NATO growing to 32 members would "not bring stability" to Europe, he said. Russia also has insisted Ukraine stay out of NATO, and President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged his country will not be invited.

Representatives from Sweden and Finland attended a NATO meeting of foreign ministers last week, where the possibility of their membership was a subject of discussion, per Reuters. When the war began, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that military non-alignment had "served Sweden's interests well." But now she's ready to reassess. "When Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden's security position changed fundamentally," her party, the Social Democrats, said in a statement Monday. The party said it's conducting a security review that will be finished by summer.

Finland is especially unnerved by Russia's attack on Ukraine because it has an 830-mile border with Russia. After dropping its strict neutrality years ago, Finland now is a NATO partner. The government expects to decide on becoming a member no later than midsummer; a former prime minister said Finland probably will apply in time to attend the NATO summit in Madrid in June. Last week, Pescov said Russia will "rebalance the situation" if the two nations join NATO. US officials have said Russia's invasion was a blunder that probably will result in NATO growing. (More NATO stories.)

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