Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev threatens to move nuclear weapons towards Finland and Sweden if they join NATO
Thursday - 14/04/2022 08:19
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons in a new location if a red line is crossed.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons close to the Baltic States and Scandinavia if Finland or Sweden decide to join NATO.
Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s security council and president from 2008 to 2012, wrote on Telegram that if the countries joined, this would more than double Russia’s land border with NATO members.
“Naturally, we will have to reinforce these borders,” he said. “In this case, it would not be possible to talk any more about the Baltic non-nuclear status. The balance has to be restored,” he said, indicating that Russia would be entitled to deploy nuclear weapons in the region.
The former president said Russia would “seriously reinforce its group of ground forces and air defences and deploy significant naval forces in the Gulf of Finland.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about the comments by journalists, said that “this has been talked about many times” and President Vladimir Putin has issued an order on “reinforcing our western flank” due to NATO’s growing military potential.
Asked if this reinforcement would include nuclear weapons, Peskov said: “I can’t say... There will be a whole list of measures, necessary steps. This will be covered at a separate meeting by the president.”
Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine have sparked a dramatic U-turn in public and political opinion in both Finland and Sweden over long-held policies of military non-alignment.
Finland said this week it will decide whether to apply for NATO membership within weeks and Sweden is also discussing membership.
Sources in the Swedish ruling party, SVD, said on Wednesday that the country will seek to join the Western bloc - and Finland is on the cusp of holding its own vote on signing up to the trans-Atlantic alliance too.
Putin invaded Ukraine partly because of Kyiv’s intentions to join NATO, and Russia is not likely to look kindly on its Nordic neighbours trying to do the same.
Both Sweden and Finland have remained neutral in recent decades to avoid risking their relationship with Russia, but the invasion of Ukraine has caused the dynamic to shift.
Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Wednesday the country would decide on whether to apply for NATO membership “within weeks”.
“I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months,” Marin told reporters at a Stockholm press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Marin stressed that as a NATO partner but not a member, Finland was not covered under Article 5, which states that an attack on one member should be considered an attack on all.
“There is no other way to have security guarantees than under NATO’s deterrence and common defence as guaranteed by NATO’s Article 5,” Marin said.
Finnish MPs on Wednesday also received a white paper on the country’s security situation and a potential membership in the military alliance in light of the war in Ukraine.
The paper will serve as the starting point for parliamentary debates beginning next week.
Many analysts predict Finland could submit a bid in time for a NATO summit in June.
Finland’s leaders have in the past opted to stay out of NATO in part to avoid provoking Russia.
During the Cold War, Finland agreed to stay out of western security cooperation in exchange for guarantees from Moscow not to invade.
Earlier this week, a video emerged appearing to show Russian missiles systems heading along a road towards Helsinki.
The unverified footage suggests Russia could be bolstering up defences on its border with Finland - just as it did with Ukraine before the invasion.