Russia could be forced to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps that could risk “full-scale nuclear war” in the wake of Finland’s historic decision to apply for Nato membership, Moscow has warned.
It comes just one day after reports emerged that the Kremlin had told Finnish politicians they could be cut off from Russian gas as early as Friday following what Russia’s foreign ministry dubbed a “radical change” in its policy.
A statement from Russia’s foreign ministry said: “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”
Finland’s alignment with the military alliance, which could be followed by Sweden doing the same within days, comes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through Europe. Helsinki’s accession to Nato would more than double the length of Russia’s borders with the alliance.
Kremlin and Dmitry Peskov said earlier that Finland had taken “unfriendly steps” against Russia.
On possible responses, Mr Peskov added: “Everything will depend on how this expansion process of Nato expansion plays out, the extent to which military infrastructure moves closer to our borders.”
On Thursday, there were reports that Russia could cut off gas supplies to Finland, those these have been denied as “likely fake” by Moscow.
The Finnish government earlier this month said it was prepared for the possibility of its eastern neighbor cutting off gas delivery in response to Finland’s refusal to abide by Russian demands for gas payments to be made in roubles.
About 60-70 per cent of gas used in Finland is originated from Russia but only 5 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption last year according to national statistics. Oil, wood-based biomass and nuclear power are their main sources of energy.
Kyiv’s successes in holding off the Russian assault are, in part, down to Nato’s filtering of military vehicles, weaponry and other support via its members bordering Ukraine.
Finland has claimed the decision to try and join Nato has been caused by Russia’s actions.
“You (Russia) caused this. Look in the mirror,” said Finnish president Sauli Niinisto.
On Thursday, Finland’s president and prime minister said their country would apply to join the Nato military alliance “without delay”.
“Now that the moment of decision-making is near, we state our equal views, also for information to the parliamentary groups and parties,” Mr Niinisto and Sanna Marin, the country’s prime minister, said in a joint statement.
“Nato membership would strengthen Finland’s security.”
Sweden is also expected to decide on joining Nato in the coming days, and is fully predicted to follow in the footsteps of neighboring Finland.
Speaking on Friday, however, Sweden’s defense minister Peter Hultqvist said that if the country were to apply to join Nato, it could increase the risk of a Russian reaction.
Its joining would represent a major change in Europe’s security landscape: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /