NATO Says No Plans To Establish Bases In Finland & Sweden After Putin Warned Against Build-Up
Perhaps seeing an opportunity to de-escalate tensions with Russia just as President Vladimir Putin said he sees “no problem” with Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bids, NATO has said it doesn’t plan to establishes bases in either of the two Scandinavian countries.
“We don’t plan to have an additional presence in either country, they have formidable national forces. They’re capable of defending themselves,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana told AFP.
Geoana said in the Tuesday remarks, “we don’t plan to have NATO bases in these two countries, because they have a very high level of military and strategic maturity.”
The comments were made the same day NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg oversaw members of the military alliance formally signing the protocols of accession. “Russia has shattered peace in Europe so it’s important we stand together at this important time,” he emphasized of the Ukraine invasion.
And Deputy Secretary General hinted at an unspecified hoped-for speedy timeline:, saying, “We hope the process will be completed quickly” as “many countries have already launched” steps towards ratification. Stoltenberg too said, “I count on allies to deliver a quick and swift and smooth ratification process.”
Also on Tuesday Putin gave his first detailed reaction to the Finland-Sweden accession process and its moving forward so quickly. He downplayed it as not the same scenario as Ukraine, explaining his thinking in the following:
Russia has “no problem” if Finland and Sweden join NATO, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. “We don’t have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine,” Putin told a news conference in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat. Finland and Sweden will be formally invited to join the alliance after Turkey dropped its opposition on Tuesday.
Putin explained in the televised remarks, “They began turning Ukraine into an anti-Russia bridgehead for trying to destabilize Russia itself. They began fighting Russian culture and language. They began to persecute individuals who regarded themselves as part of the Russian world,” in reference to the Ukrainian government post-2014, following the forced ouster of Russian-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych.
Putin explains why he can tolerate Finland and Sweden joining NATO, But not Ukraine pic.twitter.com/45Au3ejrtU
— 💤 UNCLE ABOU ALI 💤 (@DrunkleZOV) July 4, 2022
The detailed explanation had followed comments from last week wherein the Russian leader warned regarding Finland and Sweden, the former which shares an over 800-mile border with Russia, that “if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us.”
So for now it appears Brussels is taking this possibility off the table altogether, also in line with the wishes of Stockholm and Helsinki themselves, which have previously stated they don’t plan permanent NATO bases as a result of their entry into the alliance.