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The Kremlin on Thursday said Finland’s push to join NATO is a direct threat to Russia as well as the stability of the European continent and vowed to respond accordingly.
“Finland’s entry into NATO will become a threat to Russia,” Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Russian media outlets.”The next expansion of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure.”
“Of course, all this will become elements for a special analysis and development of the necessary measures in order to balance the situation and ensure our security,” he added.
FINLAND PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER, URGE THE COUNTRY TO APPLY FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP ‘WITHOUT DELAY’
The comments came after Finnish leaders on Thursday urged their country’s officials to initiate the NATO application process “without delay” and argued the backing of the 30-member alliance was vital to Helsinki’s security.
Finland, a traditionally neutral nation in Northern Europe that shares a border with Russia, began to look to the military alliance along with neighboring Sweden after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
NATO expansion has been chief among Putin’s security concerns and was a contributing factor as to why he launched his invasion of Ukraine, which had previously looked to join the 30-member alliance.
NATO membership grants security support for each nation that joins under the Article 5 pledge that declares that an attack on one nation will trigger an attack from the entire alliance.
UK SHORES UP DEFENSIVE ALLIANCE WITH SWEDEN, FINLAND AS COUNTRIES FLOAT NATO MEMBERSHIP
Western officials have long argued that Putin intended to weaken NATO by causing discord in Europe upon invading Ukraine – a war that has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
But instead, nations are now looking to expand the alliance over concerns that Putin could extend his conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.
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Moscow last month threatened to deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles along its western border with Finland should it or Sweden expand NATO membership.
The U.S., U.K. and Germany have pledged security guarantees for Helsinki and Stockholm while they await admittance into the alliance.