ASHGABAT, June 30. /TASS/. Russia is not worried over Finland’s and Sweden’s possible accession to NATO but will give a tit-for-tat response in case the alliance deploys its military infrastructure in these countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
"As for Sweden and Finland, we don’t have such problems with Sweden and Finland as, regrettably, we have with Ukraine. We have no territorial disputes. We have nothing that could be worrying from the point of view of Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO. They are free to do it if they want. But they should clearly understand that there used to be no threats to them and now we will have to respond in a tit-for-tat manner in case of the deployment of military contingents and infrastructure there and we will have to create same threats to the territories from where threats are coming to us," he said.
"It is quite obvious! Don’t they understand that? We used to have good relations [with Finland and Sweden], and now there will be some tensions. It is evident, there is no avoiding it," Putin stressed.
He also said that there are no grounds to draw parallels between Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO and Ukraine’s membership in this alliance. "I know this thesis. It is a wrong thesis, which has nothing to do with the real state of things. Our position has always been and is that NATO is a vestige of the cold war. It is only needed as an instrument of the United States’ policy to control its satellites. There is nothing else about it," he noted. We gave them such a possibility, I understand that. And they are using these arguments quite effectively and enthusiastically to consolidate their so-called allies. The idea that we have been opposing NATO’s expansion by means of admitting Ukraine and now it is expanding through admitting Sweden and Finland has no serious grounds."
"Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO is not the same as Ukraine’s membership in NATO for us. These are different things," Putin explained, adding that the alliance "understands it quite well but is simply impose this thesis on public opinion." "Just to show: aha! Russia did not want (Ukraine’s accession to NATO - TASS) but has got twice as much," he said. "No, these absolutely different things. And they understand it but are seeking to twist the facts to demonstrate that Russia is failing to achieve what it wants. They won’t deceive us by it."
"If Sweden and Finland want to join [NATO], they are free to do it. It is their own affair, let them join whatever they want. Ukraine is a different thing," he repeated. "They are seeking to make an anti-Russia of Ukraine, a foothold to try to tilt Russia. They have begun to fight against Russian culture, the Russian language. They have begun to persecute people who felt themselves part of the Russian world. There is nothing like this in Finland and Sweden. It is an absolutely different situation.".