Giving up neutrality to join NATO would be ‘wrong,’ Putin tells Finland – POLITICO


Giving up military neutrality to join NATO would be “wrong,” Russian leader Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Saul Niinistö Saturday in a phone call, the Kremlin said.

The two countries said their presidents spoke on the phone, two days after the Finnish government officially endorsed the idea that Finland should join NATO.

“Such a change in the country’s foreign-policy course could have a negative effect on Russia-Finland relations, which have been built over the course of many years in the spirit of neighborliness and partnership cooperation and have a mutually beneficial nature,” the Kremlin said.

Niinistö told Putin “how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland,” according to his office.

He added that Finland aims to seek NATO membership “in the next few days.”

Moscow previously warned it would respond to Finland joining NATO with “military-technical” retaliatory measures, but did not specify what measures it is considering.

Russia on Saturday halted electricity deliveries to Finland, citing “problems in receiving payments for electricity sold on the market.”

Finland’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Saturday endorsed the sur decision. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Niinistö will hold a decisive final meeting on Sunday.

The country is moving towards NATO membership in parallel with neighboring Sweden, which has also rethought its reluctance since Russia’s invasion. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to announce their decision on Sunday. If they come out in favor, both countries could formally apply as soon as Monday.

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