Sweden Summons Russian Ambassador Over Threats Against Joining NATO

(MENAFN) The Swedish government has announced its intention to summon the Russian ambassador in Stockholm over his statement that Finland and Sweden are “legitimate targets” for Russia’s “retaliatory measures” if they were to join NATO. Russian Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev made the statement on the embassy’s website, warning that joining NATO could make the two Nordic countries a target for Russian military action. The Swedish foreign minister, Tobias Billstrom, said that the Russian ambassador was being summoned to “protest this obvious attempt at interference.”

Both Sweden and Finland have been seeking NATO membership since February 2021, when Russia began its war on Ukraine. Finland is close to securing approval from all current NATO allies, including Türkiye, to join the alliance. With a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, Finland has long been concerned about its security and is seeking the protection of the NATO alliance. The USSR used the border to invade Finland during World War II.

Sweden's bid to join NATO depends on fulfilling a series of promises it made to Türkiye last year, including improving its anti-terrorism laws. Sweden has been gradually moving closer to NATO in recent years, with joint military exercises and increased cooperation with the alliance. However, Sweden faces significant domestic opposition to NATO membership, and the government has been cautious about taking concrete steps towards joining.

The Russian ambassador's statement has been condemned by both Sweden and Finland, with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist calling it "unacceptable." The statement also highlights the growing tensions between Russia and the West, particularly in the Baltic and Nordic regions. As Russia continues to flex its military muscles in the region, countries like Sweden and Finland are increasingly looking to NATO for protection and security guarantees.



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