A Russian lawmaker gave a harsh warning to Finland over the consequences of possibly joining NATO. Vladimir Dzhabarov told the neutral Scandinavian country that it would be a “terrible tragedy” and secure the “destruction of their country.”
Dzhabarov is a member of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, and made his comments to a state-owned news agency. He added that Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, “would become a target” if it secures NATO membership.
Through nearly half a century of the Cold War and over two decades since, Finland and neighboring Sweden prided themselves in remaining neutral. Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine changed that viewpoint quickly, and now polling in both countries shows the public in favor of NATO membership.
The numbers that support joining the military alliance are not overwhelming, but the shift since Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border is nothing short of historic. After decades of public opinion never favoring NATO membership by over 30%, that figure has more than doubled to 62% while only 16% now oppose the move.
Both countries abandoned previous policies and sent armaments to Ukraine’s defenders. The Russian Foreign Ministry last week condemned efforts by the United States and others to “drag” Finland and Sweden into the alliance and warned of “retaliatory measures.”
Both countries emphatically retorted that they and only they will decide their security policies. Last Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that both Finland and Sweden are “welcome” to join the alliance.
Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb says Finland is only weeks away from applying to join NATO, despite the recent warnings by Russian officials. Stubb said the Finnish people have a clearer view of who and what Russian President Vladimir Putin is, and having a good-faith working relationship with him is not possible.
The Kremlin has descended into a threat-making mode more reminiscent of Kim Jong Un than a first world superpower. The reality they must grasp is that the more Putin and his cronies attempt to bully and threaten Finland and Sweden against joining NATO, the further they push those nations in the very same direction.