STOCKHOLM, October 21. /TASS/. Political pressures from NATO are the most likely reason why Sweden and Finland made up their mind to join the alliance, Russia's permanent representative to the UN Geneva headquarters, Gennady Gatilov, has said.
"What is behind the decision to join NATO? This is a big question. Most likely, political pressure from NATO," the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet quotes Gatilov as saying.
Sweden and Finland have made a decision they find appropriate and they "are free to act as they please," he stressed. "But Sweden should know that this decision will not give it greater security. Definitely it does not contribute to good relations with Sweden and Finland," Gatilov said. He stressed that Russia would act in accordance with the new realities.
The two Nordic countries’ accession to the organization means that NATO will come close to the border with Russia. "Sweden and Finland will now inevitably host NATO infrastructure on their territory. This changes the whole situation. Now NATO is moving closer to Russia and to our border, which means that we will take this into account in our military planning and strategy and, of course, in the political sphere," Gatilov continued.
Before Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership, he said, Russia "had no problems" with these countries in the field of security or military relations. "Finland is also our neighbor. We have always had very good relations with it. In fact, relations with Finland were better and friendlier than with any other West European country," Gatilov stressed.
On May 18, Sweden and Finland applied for joining the alliance, but Turkey immediately blocked the accession process, demanding that these countries declare Kurdish organizations terrorist, extradite the persons whom it accused of terrorism or who participated in the 2016 coup attempt in the country, and lift the ban on arms supplies to Ankara. On June 28, before the beginning of the NATO summit in Madrid, talks were held among Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, the then Prime Minister of Sweden, Magdalena Andersson, and the alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. A memorandum was signed paving the way for Stockholm and Helsinki’s accession to NATO. Erdogan said Sweden had promised to extradite more than 70 persons involved in terrorist activities.