The possibility of Sweden and Finland joining NATO could lead to nuclear deployment, according to a statement from a Russian official.
The two nations are expected to say in the coming weeks if they will apply to join the alliance.
“If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the alliance’s land borders with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened,” Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on his official Telegram on April 14.
Medvedev said his country would need to “seriously strengthen the grouping of land forces and air defense [as well as] deploy significant naval forces in the waters of the Gulf of Finland” if the nations were admitted to NATO — thereby becoming “more officially registered opponents” of Moscow.
“In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about any nuclear-free status of the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he said.
Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia.
“Moscow sees neighboring Finland’s potential inclusion in NATO as a threat to its national security, as the U.S. could deploy advanced military equipment in Finland if it joined the alliance,” reports CNBC.
Finland and Sweden are both members of the European Union and have said that, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, their security assessments have significantly changed.
While the two countries do not have a military alliance, officials have said they are reconsidering that policy to strengthen their joint security.
In a joint address with Swedish Prime Minister Magdelena Andersson, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on April 13 that she expects her nation’s decision to come within 30 days.
“Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats, who have traditionally opposed NATO membership, have also said they will be rethinking their position in the coming months,” reports The Washington Post.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, made similar comments to Medvedev while speaking with journalists last week.
“We have to rebalance the situation and we have to take additional measures to ensure our own security because we’re deeply convinced that NATO is a machine for confrontation, it’s not a peaceful alliance,” Peskov told SkyNews.
“It was tailored for confrontation and the main purpose for its existence is to confront our country,” he added.
The spokesman said Russia would need to “make our Western flank more sophisticated” if Sweden and Finland joined NATO.
“Everything is about mutual deterring and should one side — and we consider NATO to be one side — be more powerful than the other, especially in terms of nuclear arms, then it will be considered a threat for the whole architecture of security and it will take us to take additional measures,” he said.