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Foreign Minister Haavisto: Russian rhetoric on Nato "no surprise"

Russian officials have once again warned Finland and Sweden of the "consequences" of joining the Nato alliance, without specifying what the repercussions might be.

Pekka Haavisto
Finland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. Image: EPA-EFE/All Over Press
Yle News

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) has said there is no reason to panic about the threats coming from Russia over Finland's potential membership of the Nato alliance.

He added that Russia's position on Finland and Sweden joining Nato has been common knowledge for a long time, and the reaction is therefore predictable and expected.

On Friday, a Russian official once again warned the two Nordic countries of "consequences" if they applied to join Nato.

Marija Zaharova, a spokesperson for Russia's foreign ministry, said that accession would have "consequences for bilateral relations and the overall picture of security in Europe."

Zaharova made a similar statement at the end of February, just after Russia invaded Ukraine, rhetoric which President Sauli Niinistö said at the time was "nothing new".

Zaharova's comments on Friday follow similar remarks made by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, when he said Russia would have to bolster its defences in the Baltic Sea region — including by deploying nuclear weapons — if Finland and Sweden were to join Nato.

During an interview with Yle TV1's evening news bulletin on Friday, Haavisto said that the war in Ukraine and the future security options for Finland and Sweden are two different things.

"It is not news that Russia is opposed to Nato enlargement, nor is it news that Russia will have to take it into account in planning its own defence," he said.

Haavisto also told Yle that if Finland is going to submit an application for membership, it will happen in the next six weeks. This echoes comments made by Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) during a visit to Stockholm earlier this week for talks with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson.

"I won't give any kind of timetable [for] when we will make our decisions. But I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months," Marin said at the time.

Government: "Fundamental changes" in security situation

Finland's government released an updated security policy report on Wednesday, which referenced the threat posed by Russia for the first time.

The historic publication did not take a clear position on whether or not Finland should join Nato, but set out the rationale for such a move and how the process could proceed.

The report outlined the advantages of joining Nato, which include security guarantees from member states and increased co-operation which would act as a deterrence against any possible attack. It also set out the risks of accession, which were mainly related to Russia's reaction to any Finnish move to join.

The report further noted that any failure to act could limit Finland's options in a fast-moving and ever-changing geopolitical situation.

Haavisto: Security guarantees discussed with key Nato members

The security policy report also stated that the most significant impact of possible Nato membership would be that Finland would be part of the alliance's common defence strategy and within the scope of the security guarantees offered by the alliance.

This deterrence against any possible attack would therefore be considerably greater than Finland currently has, as its position would be supported by the alliance.

The security report also warned that Finland must prepare for large-scale and unpredictable effects and risks if a membership application is submitted. One example of this escalation would be an increase in tensions on the border between Finland and Russia.

If Finland does choose to apply to join Nato, the processing of the application would take time. This has led to much public and political discussion about whether Finland could receive security guarantees during the application process.

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