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Finnish and Swedish NATO Membership Could Turn Region Into 'Theater of War', Russian Envoy Warns

Swedish soldiers - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.05.2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Finland’s and Sweden’s possible accession into NATO would be detrimental to their security and that of Europe, Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov told Sputnik.

"Finland and Sweden will be put in a position where they are forced to treat Russia as an adversary. Reciprocally, Russians are to change their perception of previously neutral countries as the springboard of NATO threat. And in such a paradigm one can forget about the non-nuclear status of the Baltic", Stepanov said.

The Russian ambassador suggested that after the dissolution of the USSR, the West made a dangerous choice in terms of the future model for security and stability.

"For a brief moment the end of the Cold War could have seemed a common victory. History proved otherwise. US and its allies, presuming they won, passed up the opportunity to erase the old divisions in Europe and to create a new framework for universal, comprehensive, indivisible European security with equal guarantees for each and every country not only from the Atlantic to the Urals, but from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Instead, Washington planners have chosen to enlarge NATO and to ignore Russian security concerns," Stepanov told Sputnik.

NATO flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.05.2022
NATO flag
The ambassador warned that NATO expansion, particularly the potential accession of Finland and Sweden, will only worsen tensions.

"Whatever NATO claims it to be, it is a nuclear military machine that came to our doors," Stepanov said, adding that "accepting Helsinki and Stockholm in the NATO’s fold also extends its contact line with Russia for more than 1300 km [808 miles]. And our good neighbors will suddenly realise that our region, until now politically and militarily calm, is abruptly included in the arc of NATO-Russia tension."

Stepanov emphasised that Russians have always respected the tradition of Swedish democracy and military non-alignment and both Sweden and Finland have had a rather stable model of co-existence with Russia.

"US and NATO bureaucracy [are] using various tactics to stimulate certain political camps in Finland and Sweden to convince the two nations to forfeit peaceful way of life and turn Northern Europe from the area of military non-alignment, stability and prosperity into yet another potential theatre of war. Once sovereign and well respected for unique independent standing, they are to lose that aura and be forced to obey the collective NATO discipline governed by the US often contrary to their security interests", the Russian ambassador said.

He told Sputnik that Finns and Swedes need to evaluate the situation thoroughly before making a decision on NATO membership, not after, when such a decision cannot be undone.

"Do Finns and Swedes really want to be pulled in the US geopolitical march against Russia? We are neighbours, and the price of responsibility for the three of us is much higher than for the ideologues in Washington DC," Stepanov said, adding that "In these testing times for European security, one can only hope wisdom prevails – so that the Finnish and Swedish constituents and their elected representatives once again review and assess whether the NATO enticements are worth it".

© Flickr / US Army Europe ImagesSoldiers from the Finnish Army stand in formation during the Saber Strike 2014 opening ceremony here, June 9, 2014
Soldiers from the Finnish Army stand in formation during the Saber Strike 2014 opening ceremony here, June 9, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.05.2022
Soldiers from the Finnish Army stand in formation during the Saber Strike 2014 opening ceremony here, June 9, 2014
Finland and Sweden started discussing the possibility of abandoning long-term neutrality and joining NATO amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The head of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said in March that NATO will gladly welcome Finland and Sweden and will provide them with the opportunity to quickly join the alliance.
The US expects Sweden to present its formal application to become a full member of NATO by the end of June, while Finland could decide on accession already this month.
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