Brussels – Former NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has appealed that as Russia is busy with the Ukraine conflict, Sweden and Finland should make moves to join NATO during this period. If these countries do not become part of NATO now, they will face Russian repression and threats in the future, Rasmussen warned.
A meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers was held in Brussels last month. The panel discussed issues like the Ukraine conflict and the role of NATO. Some member states had demanded NATO expansion, saying Russia’s threat is growing. Besides, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg had said that some Eastern European countries were eager to join NATO because of Russia’s aggression. After that, the Western media released reports that Finland and Sweden were ready to join NATO. Later, the two leaders also met with NATO chief Stoltenberg, including leading European leaders.
There had been a strong reaction from Russia. Russia will deploy additional nuclear weapons in the Baltic region if Sweden and Finland join NATO, had warned Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. Besides, the nuclear deployment in the Baltic, Russia will also increase its defence deployment in the Gulf of Finland, Medvedev had also warned. Despite Russia’s warning, both Sweden and Finland have begun the next moves to join NATO. It is said that the two countries will file nominations for NATO membership at next month’s NATO summit.
The statement made by the former NATO Chief becomes noteworthy against this backdrop. ‘As far as Finland and Sweden are concerned, I think there is a window of opportunity for (the) two countries to join, exactly now because Putin is preoccupied elsewhere. He cannot do anything about it. It will take some months, and during that period, both Finland and Sweden could potentially be exposed to Russian intimidation or even threats. Hence, we have to guarantee their security,’ said Rasmussen.
Both Finland and Sweden had so far avoided joining NATO. The people of both countries had also opposed participating in NATO. But the conflict in Ukraine is believed to be changing public opinion in both these countries.