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 on Saturday, the Kremlin said.

The two countries said their presidents met on the phone two days after the Finnish government officially approved the idea that Finland should join the NATO defense alliance.

“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy stance could have a negative impact on Russia-Finland relations, which have been built over many years in the spirit of neighborliness and cooperation between partners and a mutually beneficial character,” the Kremlin said. said.

Niinistö told Putin “how fundamentally Russia’s demands in late 2021 aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have changed Finland’s security environment,” the Finnish president’s office said.

He added that Finland is aiming for NATO membership “in the coming days”.

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

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

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

The country is moving towards NATO membership, in parallel with neighboring Sweden, which has also reconsidered its restraint since the Russian invasion. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to announce their decision on Sunday. If they are in favor, both countries can formally apply from Monday.

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