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Russia issues new warning about Finland, Sweden joining Nato

Finnish MPs began formal discussions about the issue of Nato membership on Wednesday afternoon.

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. Image: Sergei Savostyanov / AOP

Russia has issued a new warning about consequences of Finland and Sweden possibly joining Nato, according to Russian state news outlet TASS.

The warning came from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who made the comments on TV channel Russia-24 on Wednesday, the same day Finnish MPs were to formally begin debating the Nato issue.

"Under the auspices of the US, Brussels has been pulling Sweden and Finland into its structures for a while, there have been various hybrid measures on the actual pulling in, under the guise of drills or training sessions," Zakharova said.

"We made all our warnings — both publicly and via bilateral channels. They know about this, so there are no surprises. They were informed about everything, what it will lead to," she added, without specifying the consequences.

Talk about Finland's possible Nato membership significantly increased after Russia invaded Ukraine towards the end of February.

Russia has issued a number of warnings about Finland's possible accession to the military alliance, particularly as the idea gained support from the Finnish public as well as in political spheres.

Last week, former Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, warned that if Finland and Sweden were to join Nato, Russia would have to bolster its defences in the Baltic Sea region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Support for Nato grows

Recent surveys show that a growing majority of Finland's citizens, as well as lawmakers, are in support of applying for Nato membership. Results from an Yle survey published in mid-March found record-high support, with 62 percent of respondents saying they would approve of Finland joining Nato.

A few days after Russia's deadly attack on Ukraine began, an Yle survey found a significant increase in public approval of joining the alliance, with 53 percent of respondents supporting such a move — an increase of around 34 percentage points compared to a similar poll carried out in 2017.

About two weeks ago, an informal survey found that support for joining the alliance was also growing among Members of Parliament.

MPs are to officially begin discussing the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry announced on Tuesday that Finland was sending more defence material assistance to Ukraine.

However, the ministry did not specify what type of equipment was being sent nor when or how it would be delivered, "to ensure that the assistance reaches its destination."