A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin warned NATO that if Sweden or Finland join the U.S.-led alliance military force, Russia will deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic rockets in an exclave at the heart of Europe.
Finland and Sweden, which share a border of 1,300 km (810 miles) with Russia, are both considering joining NATO. Prime Minister Sanna Marina said Wednesday that Finland would decide within the next few weeks. Read more
Dmitry Medvedev (second chairman of Russia’s Security Council) stated that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, Russia would need to strengthen its land and naval forces in the Baltic Sea.
Medvedev also raised the threat of nuclear war by explicitly stating that it was impossible to talk about a “nuclear-free” Baltic. This is where Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave is located between Poland and Lithuania.
Medvedev, the Russian president from 2008-2012, stated that “there can’t be more talk about any nuclear-free Baltic status – the balance has to be restored.”
Medvedev stated that he hoped Finland would and Sweden would make sense. He said that if they didn’t, they would have had to live with nuclear weapons or hypersonic missiles near home.
Russia is home to the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads in the world and, along with China and the United States, is a global leader in hypersonic missile technology.
Lithuania claimed that Russia’s threats are not new and that Moscow had already deployed nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad years before the conflict in Ukraine. NATO didn’t immediately respond to Russia’s warning.
The war in Ukraine would have major strategic consequences if there were any chance of Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which was established in 1949 to protect the West from the Soviet Union.
Finland was granted independence from Russia in 1917. It fought two wars against Russia during World War Two, during which it lost some territory. The United States, Latvia, Estonia, and Britain participated in a military exercise that was held in Western Finland on Thursday.
Since 200 years, Sweden has never fought in a war. The foreign policy of Sweden has been focused on nuclear disarmament and democracy.
Kaliningrad, once the port of Koenigsberg and capital of East Prussia is located less than 1,400km from London and Paris, and 500km from Berlin.
Russia claimed that it had sent Iskander missiles from Russia to Kaliningrad in 2018. This was captured by the Red Army on April 1945, and handed over to the Soviet Union at Potsdam.
NATO calls the Iskander SS-26 Stone. It is a tactical, short-range tactical, ballistic missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Although its official range is 500 kilometers, some Western military sources believe it could be even greater.
Medvedev stated that “No rational person would want higher prices and higher taxes,” and added that there are no Iskanders or hypersonics to keep people with nuclear weapons at arm’s reach of their homes.
“Let’s pray that our northern neighbors will prevail with their common sense.”
Putin is Russia’s supreme leader. However, Medvedev’s comments reflect Kremlin thinking. He is a senior member the security council, one of Putin’s main chambers of decision-making on strategic issues.
Arvydas Anusauskas, Lithuania’s Defence Minister, stated that Russia had already deployed nuclear weapons at Kaliningrad before the war.
BNS quoted Anusauskas as saying, “Nuclear weapons were always kept in Kaliningrad… The international community, and the countries in this region are perfectly aware of it.” They use it as threat.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th has left thousands dead, displaced millions of people and raised concerns about a larger confrontation between Russia (the world’s largest nuclear power) and the United States (the United States).
Putin claims that the “special military operations” in Ukraine are necessary because the United States used Ukraine to threaten Russia, and Moscow had to defend against persecution of Russian-speaking people.
Ukraine claims it is fighting an empire-style land grab, and Putin’s claims about genocide are absurd. U.S. President Joe Biden claims that Putin is a war criminal, and a dictator.
Putin claims that the conflict in Ukraine is part of a larger confrontation with the United States, which he states is trying to assert its hegemony despite its decline in international order dominance.