MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Moscow will take required security and defense measures if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told TASS on Thursday.
"It is clear that our border with Finland is 1,300 km long. This will mean a radical change in the military and political situation and it is understandable that we will be forced to take security and defense measures that we will deem necessary. This is the essence of military development," the senior Russian diplomat said, responding to a question about the possibility of Russia deploying nuclear weapons in the Baltic region.
"In the current conditions, I am not ready to say whether this is real or not [the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO]," the high-ranking Russian diplomat said, replying to a corresponding question.
"For decades, the neutral status of these states had ensured a very high level of their security and generally the security in that region that had been a region of peace and cooperation and, importantly, a very reliable platform for building good neighborly relations with us," Grushko said.
The neutral status of Sweden and Finland did not impede these states in any way whatsoever from developing closer ties with the European Union and eventually becoming its members, the senior Russian diplomat pointed out.
Based on rational considerations and vital interests of the peoples living in the north of Europe, the current situation must be preserved, Grushko stressed.
"Otherwise, this will seriously worsen the military situation and bring about the most undesirable consequences that need to be avoided," he cautioned.
Replying to a question about Moscow’s contacts with Helsinki and Stockholm in the wake of ongoing discussions in these countries about their possible accession to NATO, Grushko pointed out that "diplomatic contacts are always maintained and there are embassies." "But Sweden and Finland have joined the sanctions and are participating in the anti-Russia campaign unleashed in the West. This is today’s reality."
The Times newspaper earlier reported, citing sources that both countries might join NATO already in the summer of this year. According to the paper, Finland is expected to file its NATO membership bid in June to be followed by Sweden. Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that Russia would bolster its western borders, if Sweden and Finland joined NATO and in this case "there can be no talk about the nuclear-free status of the Baltic region.".