President Vladimir Putin said Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO will not create a threat to Russia, but the “expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly cause our response.”
“As for the expansion of NATO, including through new members of the alliance which are Finland, Sweden — Russia has no problems with these states. Therefore, in this sense, expansion at the expense of these countries does not pose a direct threat to Russia,” Putin said while speaking at the summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow on Monday.
“But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly cause our response. We will see what it will be based on the threats that will be created for us,” he added.
According to the Russian leader, the NATO expansion is “artificial” as the alliance goes beyond its geographic purpose and is influencing other regions “not in the best way.”
The Russian president said that CSTO plays a very important stabilizing role in the post-Soviet space and expressed the hope that the possibilities and influence of the organization will only increase in “these difficult times.”
“I hope that the organization, which over the previous years has turned into a full-fledged international structure, will continue to develop. I mean, in these difficult times,” Putin said.
According to Putin, the leaders of the CSTO member countries on Monday will adopt a joint statement on military cooperation.
Putin added that he will inform the heads of states of the CSTO in detail about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine in the closed part of the summit.
Member states of the CSTO intend to hold a series of joint exercises this autumn, which will take place in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Putin said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday, hours after Sweden formally submitted its bid to join NATO, that Russia “will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security arising in this regard.”
Russia has vehemently opposed Sweden’s bid to join the alliance. The statement further added, “Sweden’s entry into NATO will cause significant damage to the security of Northern Europe and the European continent as a whole.”
“NATO membership will not increase the level of Sweden’s security, if only because no one threatens the country, but it will certainly lead to the loss of sovereignty in making foreign policy decisions,” the statement continued.
The Scandinavian country has previously remained neutral and avoided conflict but by if it joins NATO, it will agree to take arms if need be to support other NATO members.
CNN’s Aliza Kassim and Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.
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