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Russia's Lavrov discusses Finnish Nato bid in BBC interview

"They don't really take into account the opinion of their people," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of Finland and Sweden.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Image: EPA / AOP

In an interview with the BBC (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Lavrov denied that Finnish and Swedish Nato bids were the result of Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"Finland and Sweden have been under the command of the Anglo Saxons for a long time now as the European Union and Nato have become closer," he told the BBC.

When asked if Finnish and Swedish bids to join Nato were a failure on behalf of Russian diplomacy, he said, "Sweden and Finland are exercising their sovereign right as their government sees fit."

Lavrov, however, claimed that widespread support for joining the defence alliance did not exist among the two Nordic neighbours.

"They don't really take into account the opinion of their people in the same way that Nato ignores the opinion of lots of people in different countries when it's carrying out its tasks," he said.

Before Russia's attack on Ukraine, support for joining the alliance had long been lukewarm among the Finnish public and nearly all political parties. During this past spring, public support surged from less than half to more than three quarters in Yle polls.

Last month Finnish president Sauli Niinistö said Russia should look in the mirror if it wanted to lay blame over Finland's eagerness to join Nato.

Lavrov also speculated on Nato establishing military bases in Finland and Sweden.

"We have said many times that when—and if—Sweden and Finland join Nato, we want to see what will happen in reality on the ground," the Russian FM told the BBC.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has said issues apart from membership in the alliance are not currently on the agenda.

"I assure you no one will listen to Finland or Sweden," he said, suggesting that the US has indicated it plans to increase its military presence in Europe.