Russia warns Sweden and Finland not to try to join NATO

The Russian Foreign Ministry threatened "serious military and political repercussions" for the two Arctic countries in response to such a move.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks during the annual news conference of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on January 14, 2022. (Maxim Shipenkov / Pool via Reuters / File Photo)

A top Russian foreign ministry official threatened Sweden and Finland with “military and political consequences” if either tried to join NATO.

Spokesperson Maria Zakharova made the comments in a press conference on Friday, on the second day of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences,” she said.

[Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have spillover effects in the Arctic]

The remarks spread quickly after being pointed out in a viral tweet, which was quickly reported by several media outlets. The Russian Foreign Ministry subsequently reiterated the threat it a tweet of its own.

While five of the eight Arctic nations — the U.S., Canada, Iceland, Greenland (through Denmark) and Norway — are NATO members, Sweden and Finland have so far remained outside the alliance.

Finland shares a lengthy border with Russia, including in the Arctic. While Russia and Norway — which is a NATO member — share a border in the Arctic, if Finland were to join the alliance, it would mean a much longer Russia/NATO border in the High North.

[Safe for now, Finland fears potential military spillover into ‘strategically important’ North]

As recently as last month, Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin said it was unlikely the country would join during her tenure.

But both countries have increased their cooperation and interoperability with neighboring Norway, and participated in Arctic military exercises alongside other NATO members.

Both countries have also offered aid to Ukraine and and leaders from the two nations participated in a virtual NATO summit on Friday.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto holds a news conference after attending a virtual summit called in by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, at the official Presidential residence Mantyniemi in Helsinki, Finland on February 25, 2022. (Essi Lehto / Reuters)