“The world will change fundamentally with Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated on Monday.
According to the Russian news source “Ria Novosti,” the Russian Deputy FM also said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO is a “terrible blunder” that will have “broad implications.”
“Finland and Sweden should not expect Russia to accept their choice without question,” Ryabkov warned.
Finland’s President, Sauli Niinisto, said on Sunday that his country will apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), with Sweden following suit later, in a process that Germany has pledged to speed and is gaining increasing support from member nations.
Turkey, a member of the alliance, has objected, accusing the two countries, particularly Sweden, of harboring activists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Ankara, along with the EU and the US, deems a “terrorist organization.”
In Helsinki and Stockholm, though, the alliance voiced optimism that Turkey’s worries about membership could be overcome.
“Change the security situation”
Finland’s announcement, as well as Sweden’s willingness to apply to join the 30-member alliance, comes in response to what the two countries see as a radically altered security situation as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow branded a “mistake” and threatened with retaliatory measures.
Military neutrality in Finland dates back over 75 years, whereas in Sweden it dates back to the eighteenth century. When the Cold War ended in the 1990s, the two nations ended their neutrality by signing collaboration agreements with NATO and the EU.
Finland made the move first, ahead of Sweden, which does not want to be the lone non-member of the alliance on the Baltic Sea.
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde called the Social Democratic Party’s vote to accept Sweden’s NATO membership bid “historic” on Sunday.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the security situation in Sweden and Europe,” Linde said on Twitter.