President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would respond in kind if NATO deployed troops and infrastructure to Finland and Sweden after joining the US-led military alliance.
“With Sweden and Finland we don’t have the problems we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead,” Putin told Russian state television after talks with regional leaders in the Central Asian ex-Soviet state of Turkmenistan.
“But they need to understand that before there was no threat, while now, as military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we need to respond in kind and create the same threats to the areas from which threats against us are created.”
He said it was inevitable that Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm would sour because of their NATO membership.
“Everything was good between us, but now there may be some tensions, there will certainly be,” he said. “It is inevitable if there is a threat to us.”
Putin made his comment a day after NATO member Turkey vetoed Finland and Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, after the three nations agreed to protect each other’s security.
The move means Helsinki and Stockholm can go ahead with their applications to join NATO, marking the biggest shift in European security in decades.
Putin added that the objectives of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine remained unchanged, that the aim was to “liberate” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and create conditions to ensure Russia’s security. .
He said Russian troops had moved into Ukraine and the military intervention was proceeding according to plan. There was no need, he said, to set a deadline for the end of the campaign.
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