Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Moscow would “take response measures” if Sweden and Finland joined the NATO military alliance.
Shoigu said at a meeting of the ministry’s board on Tuesday that Russia was concerned about recent NATO moves aimed at involving the two countries in the US-led alliance’s activities for such measures would undermine global security.
“A treaty was signed in May that provides for [Sweden and Finland’s] full participation in the exercises of the alliance and the possibility of using its command-and-control systems for troops and weapons,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as saying.
“In exchange, NATO received unrestricted access to the airspace and territorial waters of these countries,” Shoigu said, adding that “such steps by Western colleagues lead to the destruction of the existing system of global security and generate even greater mistrust, forcing us to take response measures.”
The Russian defense minister also said last week’s summit in Helsinki between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin could lead to deeper military cooperation between Moscow and Washington as well as NATO countries.
NATO member states, largely made up of Western European countries, have significantly increased their military activities near Russia’s western borders in recent years.
Russia, realizing that security threat under its nose, has held several military drills to maintain preparedness, and the NATO countries have then pointed to those drills as signs that Russia has aggressive intentions.
Moscow has repeatedly warned of the consequences of NATO’s military buildup near his country’s western borders, saying the move would provoke conflicts and cause military and political instability in the region.
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