ST. PETERSBURG, June 1. /TASS/. Sweden’s joining NATO will negatively affect Stockholm’s relations with Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the heads of global news outlets. According to Putin, Russia will have to take additional security measures.
"If Sweden joins NATO, it will negatively affect our relations because it will mean that NATO facilities will be set up in Sweden so we will have to think about the best ways to respond to this additional threat," the Russian leader said.
"We will consider this [Sweden’s joining NATO - TASS] as an additional threat for Russia and will search for ways to eliminate it," Putin added.
At the same time, he said that "it does not mean that we will be swept up in hysteria and point our nuclear missiles at Sweden." "However, we will have to do something about it because we consider it as an additional threat," he reiterated.
Putin pointed out that the decision on joining NATO "can only be made by the Swedish authorities elected by the people to lead the country."
"It seems to me that only a madman can imagine that Russia plans to attack Sweden," Putin noted. In his opinion, "as far as enhancing Sweden’s military capabilities is concerned, this [NATO membership - TASS] will not be of any help."
"It will only limit its sovereignty in decision-making, which is obvious, because NATO member states cannot make decisions in relation, say, to the deployment of military infrastructure to their territory," Putin said adding that "this is what concerns Russia the most."
The Russian president stated that Moscow "has no plans to threaten Sweden." Putin cited the western media’s "fake news saying that a Russian submarine or an aircraft was spotted somewhere."
In this regard, he pointed to the Finnish president’s proposal to turn on aircraft transponders. He said that "we were ready to do that and raised this issue at the Brussels talks with NATO but they answered that they would not do this. Now what? They don’t want to turn transponders on, while their aircraft conduct two or three times more flights than ours," Putin said.
"Does Sweden want to engage in this scramble? What for? What will it gain?.. However, it is up to the Swedish people and the country’s authorities to decide," the Russian president concluded.