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Russia's deputy FM says Moscow will not tolerate NATO’s expansion into Nordic states

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
National flags of NATO countries wave outside the military alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. (File photo by Reuters)

Russia has warned the West that it will not put up with the Nordic expansion of NATO, saying the latest push by Sweden and Finland to join the US-led military alliance will only make the matters worse.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led talks with the United States on a Russian proposal to halt NATO's eastward expansion, said on Monday that the decision by Helsinki and Stockholm to join the alliance was a mistake.

"They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it, and nor should Brussels, Washington and other NATO capitals," Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Warning about the consequences of the joining of the two Nordic countries to the US-led military alliance, Ryabkov said, “The general level of military tension will rise, predictability in this sphere will decrease. It is a shame that common sense is being sacrificed to some phantom provision about what should be done in this unfolding situation."

Ryabkov stopped short of giving any clues about how Moscow would react to the Nordic enlargement of NATO, however, Russian authorities have previously warned of a "military-technical response” in case the accession came to pass as Finland shares a 1,300 kilometer-border with Russia.

Finland officially announced on Sunday its intention to become a member of NATO despite stern warnings from Russia. Sweden also followed suit shortly after the country's ruling party dropped its long-standing opposition to NATO membership.

Moscow has long expressed grievances to the US about NATO’s eastward expansion, and says Washington has repeatedly ignored the Kremlin's concerns about the security of its borders in the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has on several occasions cited the post-Soviet expansion of the NATO alliance eastwards towards Russia's borders as a reason for its latest military operation in Ukraine. Key to its list of security demands from the West prior to the operation in Ukraine was a guarantee that Kiev would never be part of NATO.  

The Russian leader declared a “special military operation" in the former Soviet state in late February.

The US and its allies have stepped up military support for Ukraine, sending an array of sophisticated weapons meant to hold off Russia's rapid advances. The operation has also drawn unprecedented sanctions from the US and its European allies.

Putin has repeatedly warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will prolong Russia's operation. But diplomats from the G7 wealthy nations — Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union —said in a joint statement earlier on Saturday that they would continue their military and defense assistance for "as long as necessary.”

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