Russia Says It Will Not Accept Sweden and Finland Joining NATO

Russia has reiterated it would not accept Finland or Sweden joining NATO, after the Ukraine crisis brought the two militarily non-aligned countries to the brink of joining the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the comments to reporters on Monday, relayed through state-owned news agency TASS.

He was discussing the news of Sweden's ruling party approving the country's bid to join NATO on Sunday, as well as Finnish politicians calling for their country to join the alliance "without delay."

The two Nordic states have historically been non-aligned militarily. Sweden has not fought a war in more than 200 years, while Finland signed an agreement with Russia in 1948 that included Helsinki isolating itself militarily from Western Europe. Finland shares an 807-mile border with Russia and gained independence from the nation in 1917.

Commenting on the countries' intentions to join NATO, Ryabkov said Monday: "All this is a reflection, [an] absolutely false and distorted perception of what is happening in the world by political circles in the West, and, in particular, in the countries of Northern Europe."

"The fact that the security of Sweden, like Finland, for that matter, will not be strengthened as a result of this decision, is completely obvious to us. And in what form we will ensure our security after changing this general NATO configuration is a separate question," he added, saying it will depend on what will be the result of the two Nordic countries' intention to join the alliance.

"They [NATO] should not have any illusions that we will simply put up with this—in Brussels, Washington, and other NATO capitals. That is, the general level of military tension will increase, and there will be less predictability in this area."

On Sunday, the leaders of Sweden and Finland confirmed they intend to join NATO, after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and increased concerns around European security.

The two countries' governments will present their proposals to their respective parliaments on Monday and are expected to formally submit a join membership application to the 30-member alliance as soon as the decisions are ratified.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, which has seen thousands of people die and millions driven from their homes, Russian President Vladimir Putin has justified his "special military operation" partly as a response to what he claims is NATO expansion in Eastern Europe.

Russia has repeatedly said it won't tolerate the two countries joining the alliance.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, warned on April 14 that if the two nations joined NATO, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Baltic Sea, territory which falls in all three countries. Russian state television has repeated this warning.

Finland and Sweden could become NATO members as soon as this summer. However, the ratification can take four months to a year, as parliaments of all NATO countries need to approve the new members.

Sergei Ryabkov
Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during the annual meeting of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) on April 20, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. Russia said on Monday it would not accept Finland or Sweden joining NATO, after the Ukraine war brought the two militarily non-aligned countries to the brink of joining the Trans-Atlantic alliance. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty