By Robert Bridge
Saying that Finland will surrender its right to act independently in the event it joins the western military alliance, Putin added that Moscow will respond to deployment of any NATO attack missiles based in the Nordic country.
“The involvement of any country in a military bloc deprives it of a certain degree of sovereignty, and some decisions are made at a different level,” the Russian president said at a meeting on Friday with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
He compared the situation with what has transpired in the bureaucratic realm concerning Finland’s visa regime.
“The same has occurred over the question of visas, where part of Finland’s sovereignty is handed over to the European Union,” the Russian leader noted.
Putin then discussed the threat of Finland militarizing itself under NATO supervision, warning that if “the deployment of attack missiles is approved, Russia will take retaliatory measures.”
The Russian President then asked rhetorically if Russia and Finland really needed such a volatile situation.
“If NATO decides to deploy missile systems, Russia will take retaliatory measures,” Putin told reporters after talks with Niinsto. “Russia’s retaliatory measures will be guaranteed. But what would we need that for?”
Washington’s determination to construct a missile defense system along Russia’s border in Eastern Europe, and without the participation of Russia, has rocked the so-called reset, threatening to spark another arms race between the two former Cold War rivals.
NATO’s relations with Finland, which shares a lengthy border with Russia, are conducted through the Partnership for Peace framework, which Finland joined in 1994.
According to the western alliance’s website, NATO and Finland actively cooperate on peace and security operations and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas.
Meanwhile, the Russian Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said earlier this month at an event organized by Finland’s National Defence Courses Association at the University of Helsinki that cooperation between Finland and NATO threatens Russian security.
“Cooperation between Finland and NATO threatens Russia’s security,” stressed Makarov. “Finland should not be desirous of NATO membership, rather it should preferably have tighter military cooperation with Russia.”