Mon, 29 May 2023

Russia will respond to NATO expansion diplomat
16 May 2022, 21:15 GMT+10

Expected accession of Finland and Sweden will raise military tensions, a senior Russian diplomat said

Russia will not simply watch as Finland and Sweden join NATO, so by doing it they will compromise their security, not bolster it, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov warned on Monday.

Speaking to Russian journalists, the official called the move by the two nations "the latest serious mistake with long-lasting ramifications" in the West and said it demonstrated "the level" of those taking such decisions.

"It reflects the false distorted perceptions of events taking place in the world by the policymakers in the West, particularly in northern Europe. It is obvious for us that the security of Sweden and Finland will not be strengthened by it," Ryabkov said.

The diplomat added that Russia's practical response to what it perceives as a growing military threat coming from NATO would depend on the situation on the ground.

Ryabkov said that the two Nordic nations chose to "sacrifice common sense" and take a step to further escalate military tensions in Europe by seeking NATO membership.

Lawmakers in Finland and Sweden are expected to vote to apply for NATO membership, after their respective governments supported the policy change last week. Both nations remained outside of the US-led military bloc throughout the Cold War, but claim they need to join it now due to Russia's offensive against Ukraine.

READ MORE: US ready to provide military support to new NATO hopefuls

Russia stated that NATO's expansion towards its border since the collapse of the Soviet Union posed a critical threat to its national security. The Russian government claimed that the assistance that the alliance has given to Kiev to build up its military had crossed a red line and forced Russia's hand.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.


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