Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned NATO’s “imperial ambitions”, accusing the military alliance of seeking to assert its “supremacy” through the Ukraine conflict. The Russian leader also said on Wednesday that he would respond in kind if NATO deployed troops and infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after the two Nordic countries join the military alliance.
Putin made his comment a day after NATO member Turkey lifted its veto over the bid by Finland and Sweden to join the alliance when the three nations agreed to protect each other’s security. Helsinki and Stockholm joining NATO marks one of the biggest shifts in European security in decades. “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 television after talks with regional leaders in the central Asian ex-Soviet state of Turkmenistan.
“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 said. Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm would inevitably sour over their NATO membership, he added. “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.”
Source: Al Jazeera