Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO is not a threat to Russia, but military expansion will provoke a response

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of leaders of member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 16. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

President Vladimir Putin has said that Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO will not create a threat to Russia, but that “the expansion of military infrastructure in this territory will certainly cause our reaction”.

“As for the expansion of NATO, including through new alliance members Finland, Sweden, Russia has no problem with these states. Therefore, in this sense , expansion at the expense of these countries does not pose a direct threat to Russia,” Putin said during a speech at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Moscow on Monday.

“But the expansion of military infrastructure in this territory will certainly drive our response. We will see what it will be depending on the threats that will be created for us,” he added.

According to the Russian leader, NATO’s expansion is “artificial” because the alliance is going beyond its geographical focus and influencing other regions “not in the best way”.

The Russian president said that the CSTO plays a very important stabilizing role in the post-Soviet space and expressed the hope that the possibilities and influence of the organization will only increase in “these difficult times” .

“I hope that the organization, which in previous years has turned into a full-fledged international structure, will continue to develop. I mean, in these difficult times,” Putin said.

According to Putin, the leaders of the CSTO member countries will adopt a joint statement on military cooperation on Monday.

Putin added that he will inform the CSTO heads of state in detail about the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine in the closed part of the summit.

CSTO member states intend to hold a series of joint exercises this fall, which will take place in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Putin said.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday, hours after Sweden officially submitted its NATO candidacy, that Russia “will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both to military-technical and other nature, in order to put an end to the threats”. to its national security arising in this regard. »

Russia vehemently opposed Sweden’s offer to join the alliance. The statement further adds that “Sweden’s entry into NATO will cause significant damage to the security of Northern Europe and the European continent as a whole.”

“NATO membership will not increase Sweden’s level of security, if only because no one threatens the country, but it will certainly lead to the loss of sovereignty in foreign policy decision-making. “, continues the press release.

The Scandinavian country has previously remained neutral and avoided conflict but until it joins NATO, it will agree to take up arms if need be to support other NATO members.

CNN’s Aliza Kassim and Uliana Pavlova contributed to this post.

Christi C. Elwood