A Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday the Finnish government would be signing off on “the destruction of their country” if they tried to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance.
In remarks shared by the Russian-state media station RIA Novosti, Russian lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov said Finland would be making a “strategic mistake” by joining NATO.
“If the leadership of Finland goes for it, it will be a strategic mistake,” Dzhabarov said, adding, “The Finns themselves will sign a card for the destruction of their country.”
Dzhabarov — who is a member of the upper house of Russia’s legislature, the Federation Council and serves on its foreign relations committee — said, “Finland, which has been successfully developing all these years thanks to close trade and economic ties with Russia, would become a target. I think it (would be) a terrible tragedy for the entire Finnish people.”
Dzhabarov said he anticipates Finnish officials will explore the idea of joining NATO, but ultimately will be “pragmatic and intelligent” enough not to follow through with the idea.
Dzhabarov positioned Sweden as an exemplar for Finland, noting the neighboring Scandinavian country has maintained a neutral status and has avoided joining NATO while continuing to share relations with NATO-allied countries.
“Sweden is a self-sufficient country that feels comfortable in Europe,” Dzhabarov said.
Dzhabarov’s comments aren’t the first time Russia has exerted pressure against Finland joining the NATO alliance.
The day after the Russian military launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the “accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO, which is first and foremost a military alliance, would have serious military-political repercussions that would demand a response from our country.”
Last month Sergei Belyaev — the director of the Second European Department of Russia’s foreign ministry — told Russia’s state-owned Interfax news agency that both Finland and Sweden would face military and political consequences could face consequences if they joined NATO.
Belyaev said Finland and Sweden’s avoiding joining NATO is “an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe.”
While Finland has not joined NATO, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of attacking “the entire European security order.”
Swedish officials have also condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Sweden condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s acts are also an attack on the European security order,” Swedish Prime tweeted on Feb. 24. “It will be met by a united and robust response in solidarity with Ukraine. Russia alone is responsible for human suffering.”