HELSINKI (AP) — Finland and Sweden have brushed off warnings from neighboring Russia that their possible joining of NATO would trigger “serious military-political consequences” from Moscow for the two countries.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry Friday voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Saturday that “we’ve heard this before.”
“We don’t think that it calls for a military threat,” Haavisto said in an interview with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE. “Should Finland be NATO’s external border, it rather means that Russia would certainly take that into account in its own defense planning. I don’t see anything new as such” in the statement delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Haavisto said.
Finland has a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia — the longest border shared by any European Union member state and Russia.
Haavisto’s words were echoed by the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto who said on Friday that he didn’t see the statement meaning Moscow was threatening Finland militarily but rather what kind of “countersteps” Russia would take should Finland join NATO.
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