Putin says Finland and Sweden can 'go ahead' and join NATO but warned the countries against hosting the alliance's 'military contingents and infrastructure'

Russia President Vladimir Putin waves.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images
  • Putin said this week that Finland and Sweden could "go ahead" and join NATO if they wished.

  • But he warned the countries against hosting NATO infrastructure.

  • Putin said Russia would "respond in kind" if NATO military contingents were deployed in the nations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Sweden and Finland could join NATO if they wished but that Russia would "respond in kind" if either country played host to the alliance's military forces or infrastructure.

According to Reuters, Putin made these comments to Russian state media while discussing NATO's formal invitation to the two countries to join the alliance.

"With Sweden and Finland, we don't have the problems that we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead," Putin told Russian state media, according to Reuters.

"But they must understand there was no threat before, while now if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats towards us are created," he added.

Reuters reported that Putin went on to say that Russia's relationship with both countries would be subject to some new "tensions" if they joined the alliance.

"Everything was fine between us, but now there might be some tensions, there certainly will," Putin said. "It's inevitable if there is a threat to us."

Putin's latest comments came after repeated warnings from Russia to Finland and Sweden about joining NATO. In April, Russia threatened that such a move would force it to "restore military balance" in the Baltic states.

The two Scandinavian countries are set to make bids to join the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to the countries joining the alliance. Turkey, Finland, and Sweden have since signed an agreement to let the membership process proceed, signaling an imminent end to the two countries' neutrality in Europe.

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