Russia accuses US of trying to draw Finland, Sweden into NATO, diplomat says
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added that "practical interaction" of Helsinki and Stockholm with NATO is growing, this has been observed for a while
Russia on Friday accused Washington of trying to lure Finland and Sweden into NATO.
The admission of the two Scandinavian countries would have serious security consequences for Russia that would demand reciprocal steps, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a weekly press briefing in Moscow.
Singling out the US, among other countries in efforts at “drawing Finland and Sweden into the alliance,” Zakharova said the intensity of Helsinki and Stockholm’s interaction with NATO was not new.
All member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including Finland and Sweden, have confirmed the principle that the security of some states cannot be built at the expense of the security of other countries, she added.
“It is obvious that the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO, which is primarily … a military bloc, would have serious military and political consequences that would require retaliatory steps by our country,” she said.
The spokeswoman noted that the Finnish government had been pursuing a policy of neutrality and called it “an important factor of ensuring security and stability in the north of Europe and on the continent as a whole.”
She also once again stressed that Russia needed legally-binding guarantees from the US and NATO, proving that Russia would not face security risks.
This came on the second day of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, with the latest reports indicating that Russian troops were heading toward the capital Kyiv from several directions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the military intervention on Thursday, just days after recognizing two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine.
He claimed that Moscow had no plan to occupy the neighboring country, but wanted to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to install a puppet government and said Ukrainians will defend their country against Russian aggression.
Tensions started escalating late last year when Ukraine, the US and its allies accused Russia of amassing nearly 150,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.
They claimed Russia was preparing to invade its western neighbor, allegations consistently rejected by Moscow.
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