Russia warns of 'retaliatory steps' if Finland joins NATO
- Finland would "radically change" its foreign policy, Russia said
- Russia's response will be of "military nature", Kremlin said
- Finland announced it will attempt to join NATO "without delay"
Russia threatened to take "retaliatory steps" if Finland goes ahead with its plan to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Finnish lawmakers announced earlier that the country would go ahead with its bid to join the security alliance.
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that if Finland decides to join NATO it would be a "radical change in the country's foreign policy", according to reports from CNBC. Finland was considered to be one of the most neutral countries.
"Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising", the statement from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs read.
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Sauli Niinisto jointly announced in a statement that the country will attempt to join the NATO military alliance "without delay."
"NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance," Niinisto and Marin said in a joint statement.
The ministry’s statement follows Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comment earlier Thursday that Finland’s decision would not help stability and security in Europe. Peskov said that Russia’s response will depend on NATO’s moves to expand its infrastructure closer to the Russian borders.
Previously, the Kremlin had warned of "military and political repercussions" if Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO. Should they apply, there will be an interim period lasting from when an application has been handed in until all 30 NATO members’ parliaments have ratified it.
On Thursday, Niinisto tweeted that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Finland's firm support for Ukraine and the country's intention to join NATO. Niinisto said that Zelensky "expressed his full support for it."