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Russia threatens to deploy nuclear weapons near the Baltic if Sweden and Finland join NATO | International

Then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left) chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.
Then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (left) chats with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2019.Mikhail Svetlov (Getty Images)

Moscow threatens to deploy nuclear weapons together with the Nordic countries if Finland and Sweden join NATO, as they have suggested in recent days. “There will be nothing more to talk about any non-nuclear status of the Baltic region, the balance will have to be restored,” said the vice president of the Russian Security Council and former president Dmitry Medvedev. However, the countries in the area warn that this neutrality did not exist because Russia already has nuclear weapons in the enclave of Kaliningrad. “The international community is aware of it,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas responded.

In principle, the nuclear weapons of the Atlantic Alliance closest to Russia are deployed in Germany and Turkey. On the occasion of the invasion of Ukraine, the Nordic countries have demanded their integration into the organization, although they do not have this arsenal, nor do the Baltic countries.

In addition to threatening nuclear deployment, Medvedev has also advanced that this accession would mean that Russia would deploy more troops in the area. “If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the land border will be doubled and naturally it will have to be reinforced. It will be necessary to drastically increase land and air defenses, and to deploy significant naval forces in the Gulf of Finland,” said the former Russian president.

However, the Baltic states say they were already closely threatened by Russian nuclear weapons. “Russian threats are a bit strange when we know that, even without the current security situation, they have weapons 100 kilometers from our border,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told the BNS channel. “Nuclear weapons have always been stored in Kaliningrad. The international community, the countries of the region, are perfectly aware of this. They use it as a threat”, he added.

In addition, the nuclear balance of the region could also be altered by the most faithful ally of the Kremlin, the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. The Belarusian government this year promoted a constitutional reform that contemplates the deployment of Russian weapons of mass destruction in its territory. Days before the invasion of Ukraine began, Lukashenko and Putin together witnessed an exhibition of Moscow’s wide range of nuclear-capable missiles.

Change in the geopolitical chessboard

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The brutal offensive in Ukraine and Russia’s threats to Sweden and Finland not to apply for NATO membership have provoked the opposite reaction to that desired by the Kremlin: the two Nordic countries, neutral for decades, are closer than ever to become part of the Atlantic Alliance. The possible adhesion to the military organization has dominated the political debate in Stockholm and Helsinki for weeks. Meanwhile, support for integration has skyrocketed among the Swedish and Finnish population.

The Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, said on Wednesday that Helsinki will decide “in the coming weeks” whether or not to start the procedures to join the military organization. Her statements were made in Stockholm, after meeting with her Swedish counterpart, also a Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, who was more cautious, although she has not denied the information published by the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in which it was stated that the president would be willing to second a request to join the Alliance in June.

The entry of the two Nordic countries into the Alliance would raise the number of members to 32. At the end of June, a NATO meeting will be held in Madrid in which the formal procedures for entry could begin. Sweden would become the sixth largest country in the military bloc and the border between the Alliance and Russia would become more than twice as long (the 1,360 kilometers that separate Finland from its imperialist neighbor would be added to the slightly more than 1,200 that there are now on the borders of Poland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The armies of Sweden and Finland are also much larger and better prepared than those of Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, the only countries that have joined the Alliance since seven new partners joined in 2004.

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