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Sweden warns of Russian cyber retaliation over NATO membership move

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she expects possible cyber retaliation from Russia as her country moves to join NATO.

Andersson was responding to a question from CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick during a press conference on Sunday in Stockholm.

“What kind of retaliation there can be? That’s up to Russia and President [Vladimir] Putin,” Andersson told Sedgwick. 

“There could be the possibility of cyberattacks, hybrid attacks and other measures, but it’s all up to them,” she said. 

Andersson added that the decision to join NATO is what is best for her country’s security. 

“It’s not something against Russia, but it is what we think is best for us,” she said. 

Sweden’s public broadly supports joining the alliance, a stark change from attitudes prior to Russia’s invasion.

Sweden officially announced on Monday that it had decided to apply for NATO membership. The Nordic country said its decision was based on a “security analysis” report involving the government and the parliamentary parties. 

Just last week, Finnish officials also announced they would apply for NATO membership “without delay.”

Andersson said on Monday that Sweden could apply for membership as early as this week and that it should be done in coordination with Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia. 

Russia, which sees the expansion of the alliance as a direct threat, has vowed to take “retaliatory steps” if the two Nordic countries join the 30-nation military organization. 

Experts have warned that while it’s too early to tell how Russia will use its cyber capabilities against Finland, Sweden or other NATO members, it’s likely that it will launch small-scale and unsophisticated types of cyberattacks, including website defacement and distributed denial-of-service attacks, as a form of protest against the expansion.

Tags cybersecurity Finland Magdalena Andersson NATO membership Russia-Ukraine war Russian hackers Sweden Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

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