Russian ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev states that Sweden and Finland would be targets of Russia’s retaliatory measures if they join NATO.
The Swedish government has said that it would summon the Russian ambassador in Stockholm over his statement saying that by joining NATO, Finland and Sweden are “legitimate targets” for Russia’s “retaliatory measures.”
In a statement on the embassy’s website, Russian Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev remarked that by joining NATO, the two Nordic countries could become a legitimate target for Russian “retaliatory measures, including those of a military nature."
Following the statement, the Swedish foreign minister, Tobias Billstrom, told TT news agency, that it was summoning the Russian ambassador to “protest this obvious attempt at interference.”
Sweden and Finland have both sought NATO membership since last February, when Russia began its war on Ukraine.
Finland is close to getting approval from all the current NATO allies to join, including Türkiye.
Finland has a 1,300-kilometres border with Russia, which the USSR used to invade its neighbour during World War II.
Sweden's bid depends on it fulfilling a series of promises it made to Türkiye last year to improve its anti-terrorism laws, among other steps.
Russia against NATO infrastructure
Last year, President Vladimir Putin said there would be "no problem" if Finland and Sweden join NATO.
"We don't have problems with Sweden and Finland as we do with Ukraine," Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat last June.
"If Finland and Sweden wish to, they can join. That's up to them. They can join whatever they want."
But Putin said that Moscow would respond in kind if NATO sets up infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the US-led defence alliance.
"They must understand there was no threat before, while now if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats towards us are created."
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