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Putin: Finland, Sweden joining NATO ‘does not pose a direct threat to Russia’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO “does not pose a direct threat to Russia,” in a seeming reversal of his former condemnation of NATO expansion.

“As far as expansion goes, including new members Finland and Sweden, Russia has no problems with these states — none. And so in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries,” Putin said, according to Reuters.

Putin’s aversion to the Western alliance is one of the root causes of his invasion of Ukraine, which had expressed an openness to joining it in the future. The war, however, has in fact greatly increased the attractiveness of NATO to Sweden and Finland.

Putin addressed NATO expansion at the Collective Security Treaty Organization summit, a meeting of a military alliance between six states formerly parts of the Soviet Union: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

He also said, however, that movement of troops or weapons into new NATO states would cause Russia to react.

Putin’s comments come as Finland and Sweden both recently announced their intentions to officially apply for membership in NATO.

Last week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov offered a very different stance from Putin’s, saying that Finland joining NATO would “definitely” pose a threat to Russia.

“As we have said many times before, NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure,” said Peskov.

Tags Dmitry Peskov NATO NATO expansion Vladimir Putin

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