Russia’s foreign ministry issued a stark warning to Finland that Moscow will “be forced” to take retaliatory actions if the Northern European country joins NATO.
The threat from Russia came hours after Finland’s leaders announced their support of the country’s application for NATO membership.
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“The statement by Finnish President S. Niinistö and Finnish Prime Minister S. Marin, who spoke today in favor of Finland joining NATO, is a radical change in the country's foreign policy," the Russian foreign ministry said, according to CNN, adding that "Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move."
"Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard," it said. "Joining NATO will also be a direct violation of Finland's international legal obligations, primarily the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 and the 1992 Treaty between Russia and Finland on the fundamentals of relations.”
Finland, which shares a roughly 800-mile border with Russia, and Sweden have taken preliminary steps toward applying for NATO membership since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Joining NATO would enhance Finland's ability to consult and cooperate on defense and security-related issues with other members of the alliance, and it would get the security of NATO’s Article 5 provision, which commits members to provide mutual protection in the event of an attack.
Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his much anticipated Victory Day speech on Monday. While there were concerns he would make an announcement of victory in Ukraine or declare further troop mobilizations, he did not mention either.
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Putin attempted to justify his decision to invade Ukraine, saying the offensive was necessary because the West was creating "threats next to our borders" and "preparing for the invasion of our land."