​Moscow warns Finland and Sweden against joining Nato amid rising tensions

Moscow has warned Finland and Sweden against joining Nato amid rising tensions between Russia and the western military alliance. Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, accused the alliance of trying to pull the two countries into its orbit, the Times reports.

“It is quite obvious that the ascension of Finland and Sweden to Nato would have serious military and political consequences that would require an adequate response from Russia,” she said, not specifying what response Russia might take.

Finland and Sweden both pursued a policy of neutrality throughout the Cold War and neither country has ever formally applied to join Nato.However, Sweden, which increased its defence budget after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, introduced legislation last year that would allow it to join Nato in the future if it decided it was in its interests. Swedish troops have held joint military exercises with Nato.

Finland has also said that it could apply for Nato membership in the future.

Ann Linde, Sweden’s foreign minister, said Russia’s demands would reduce the opportunities for countries to make independent decisions.

“We must have a rules-based world order, where we have international law and each country has the right to make its own security policy choice,” she said.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited the two countries in October and praised their willingness to work with the alliance amid Russia’s “aggressive posturing”.

IMAGE: By ДИП МИД РФ (фотограф Никита Кочук) - http://www.mid.ru/ru/press_service/spokesman/briefings/-/asset_publisher/D2wHaWMCU6Od/content/id/2074106#11, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

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