After Sweden and Finland expressed their support for Ukraine and NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have reportedly responded to threats from Russia regarding possible retaliation due to potentially joining North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Director of the Second European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Belyaev reiterated the political and military consequences should Sweden and Finland join the alliance.

“It is obvious that Finland and Sweden’s joining NATO, which is a military organization in the first place, would have serious military and political consequences requiring us to revise the entire range of relations with these countries and take retaliatory measures,” said Belyaev to Interfax. Belyaev said that it was still too early to discuss specifics when asked about the nature of said retaliations. 

Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department Sergey Belyaev (MFA Russia Twitter Account). Source:
Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Second European Department Sergey Belyaev (MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) Twitter Account)

“But we cannot ignore the growing intensity of Helsinki and Stockholm’s practical interaction with NATO, including participation in military exercises of the alliance, the provision by Finland and Sweden of its territory for such maneuvers conducted in close proximity of the Russian borders,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited the expansion of NATO’s influence eastward as the primary reason for his invasion of Ukraine, saying it poses a security threat to the country. Ukraine, on several occasions, has expressed its desire to join the alliance. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has now accepted that Ukraine will not be admitted into NATO in the near future. “For years, we have been hearing about how the door is supposedly open (to NATO membership), but now we hear that we cannot enter. And it is true, and it must be acknowledged,” the Ukrainian President said.

“I am glad that our people are beginning to understand this and rely on themselves and on our partners who assist us,” he added.

According to the aforementioned Russian director, NATO member states, particularly the United States, have made deliberate strides to draw Sweden and Finland to the alliance, including propaganda to sway public opinion.

“While evaluating the discussion about relations with NATO ongoing in Finland and Sweden, one must pay attention to statements of the authorities of the countries and opinions of military experts, rather than hysterics in media outlets,” Belyaev stated.