Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that 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.
News agency Reuters reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun) Medvedev saying that Russia would have to strengthen its land, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea to restore military balance if the two Nordic countries decide to apply to join the alliance.
"There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic - the balance must be restored," Medvedev said, noting that "until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to."
He added that he hoped "reason" would prevail and both countries would decide not to join the alliance.
Currently serving as deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, Medvedev is also a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. His comments came after Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) met her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm on Wednesday.
"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 stated.
There has been growing public and political support in both countries for joining Nato following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
Finland's government published a white paper on Wednesday outlining the benefits and risks of Nato membership, with the report considered the starting point of an official debate about a potential application.
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