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Russia issues threat of 'military and political consequences' if Finland or Sweden join NATO


Russia has issued a veiled threat of "military and political consequences" if Finland and Sweden attempt to join NATO.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned the Scandinavian countries on Friday about joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"Finland and Sweden should not base their security in basing it on damaging security of other countries," Zakharova said during the press conference.

"Their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences," Zakharova cautioned.

"We regard the Finnish government's commitment to a military non-alignment policy as an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe," Zakharova said.

The scare tactic by Russia arrived a day after Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin declared that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine would force Finland – which shares an 833-mile border with Russia – to reconsider joining NATO.

"Finland is not currently facing an immediate military threat, but it is also now clear that the debate on NATO membership in Finland will change," Marin said on Thursday, according to YLE News.

In January, Marin discussed potentially becoming a NATO member, "Finland retains the option of applying for NATO membership. We should uphold this freedom of choice and make sure it remains a reality, as this is part of every country's right to decide on its own security policies."

Finland and Sweden – which are not NATO members but are NATO partners – are both attending NATO's virtual emergency summit regarding the Ukraine situation on Friday.

"It is important for Finland and Sweden to be involved in the NATO meeting, due to the situation in the Baltic Sea region, for example," Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Thursday.

Haavisto added, "We consider it important that Nato continues its open-door policy and that we can apply for membership if we wish."

Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb reacted to the threat by saying, "Russia is pushing Finland closer to NATO membership. Closer than ever before. Our security has been partially based on an option to join. At this rate, we have no other option but to join. Finland's accession would strengthen the alliance and help keep Northern Europe stable."

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Finland on Friday for financial aid during the Russian invasion.

"Discussed with [Finnish President Sauli] Niinistö countering the aggressor," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. "Informed about our defense, insidious shelling of Kyiv. Grateful to Finland for allocating $50 million aid. It's an effective contribution to the anti-war coalition. We keep working. We need to increase sanctions & Ukraine defense support."

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson declared on Thursday that her country would help Ukraine.

"I have ... today given the Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist the task of immediately preparing a decision so that we, from the Swedish side, can support Ukraine with further ways to... to strengthen their resilience," Andersson said.

Putin had previously issued veiled threats if Ukraine attempted to become a member of NATO.

In the weeks leading up to NATO's 2008 Bucharest Summit, Putin told U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns, "No Russian leader could stand idly by in the face of steps toward NATO membership for Ukraine. That would be a hostile act toward Russia."

Fellow Scandanavian country Norway – which shares a border with Russia – was one of the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when the military alliance went into effect in 1949.

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