NATO instead of neutrality would be ‘wrong’ – POLITICO

Giving up military neutrality to join NATO would be “wrong,” Russian leader Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in a phone call on Saturday, the Kremlin said.

The two countries said their presidents spoke by phone, two days after the Finnish government officially endorsed the idea that Finland should join the NATO defense alliance.

“Such a change in the course of the country’s foreign policy could have a negative effect on Russia-Finland relations, which have been built over many years in a spirit of neighborliness and partnership cooperation and have a mutually beneficial nature.” the Kremlin said. saying.

Niinistö told Putin “how fundamentally the Russian demands at the end of 2021 with the aim of preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered Finland’s security environment”, according to the office of the Finnish president.

He added that Finland aims to seek NATO membership “in the coming days.”

Moscow has previously warned that it would respond to Finland’s NATO membership with “military-technical” retaliatory measures, but did not specify what measures it is considering.

Russia on Saturday halted deliveries of electricity to Finland, citing “problems receiving payments for electricity sold on the market.”

The ruling Social Democratic Party of Finland on Saturday backed up the government’s decision. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Niinistö will hold a decisive final meeting and press conference on Sunday.

The country is moving towards NATO membership in parallel with neighboring Sweden, which has also reconsidered its reluctance since Russia’s invasion. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to announce their decision on Sunday. If they win, both countries could formally apply as soon as Monday.

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