Putin sees no threat from Nato expansion

18 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Putin sees no threat from Nato expansion Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Herald

MOSCOW. – President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that there was no threat to Russia if Sweden and Finland joined NATO but cautioned that Moscow would respond if the US-led alliance bolstered military infrastructure in the new Nordic members.

Mr Putin has repeatedly cited the post-Soviet enlargement of the Nato alliance eastwards toward Russia’s borders as a reason for the conflict of Ukraine.

But Putin, who has in recent months rattled Russia’s nuclear sabre at the West over Ukraine, made an unusually calm response to Finland and Sweden’s bids to join Nato, the biggest strategic consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to date.

Sweden yesterday formally applied to join NATO, the country’s SVT and TV4 news channels reported.

SVT showed footage of Foreign Minister Ann Linde signing what it said was the application to the military alliance. Sweden’s application is to be submitted alongside Finland’s.

“As to enlargement, Russia has no problem with these states – none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion (of Nato) to include these countries,” Mr Putin told the leaders of a Russian-dominated military alliance of former Soviet states.

Mr Putin, though, laced his newly found tranquillity on Nato with a warning.

He said: “But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response.

“What that (response) will be – we will see what threats are created for us,” Mr Putin told the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The Kremlin chief’s remarkably serene response to one of Russia’s most sensitive geopolitical worries – the post-Soviet enlargement of Nato – contrasted to some tougher language from his foreign ministry and senior allies.

Before Mr Putin spoke, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the West should have no illusions that Moscow would simply put up with the Nordic expansion of Nato. Those comments were still being played up on state television.

One of Mr Putin’s closest allies, former President Dmitry Medvedev, said last month that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad if Finland and Sweden joined Nato.

Speaking in the Grand Kremlin Palace, Mr Putin read a short speech that touched on Nato and scolded the US for creating biological laboratories in the former Soviet Union.

He  said Russia had evidence that the United States had been trying to create components of biological weapons in Ukraine,.

Besides Nato’s “endless expansion policy”, Putin said the alliance was reaching far beyond its Euro-Atlantic remit – a trend he said that Russia was following carefully.

Moscow says NATO threatens Russia and that Washington has repeatedly ignored the Kremlin’s concerns about the security of its borders in the West, the source of two devastating European invasions in 1812 and 1941.

Mr Putin said the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the US was using Ukraine to threaten Russia through Nato enlargement and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian-speaking people. – Reuters

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