Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons near the Baltic and Scandinavian countries if Finland or Sweden decided to join NATO.
Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council and president from 2008 to 2012, wrote on Telegram that if countries joined, it would double Russia’s land borders with NATO members.
“Of course we will have to reinforce these borders,” he said.
“In this case, it will no longer be possible to talk about the non-nuclear status of the Baltics. The balance must be restored,” he said, noting that Russia would have the right to deploy nuclear weapons in the region.
The former president said that Russia would seriously strengthen its combination of ground forces and air defenses and deploy large naval forces in the Gulf of Finland.
The Reuters news agency that Medvedev is one of the closest allies of President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.
“This has been talked about many times,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked by reporters about the comments, adding that President Vladimir Putin had issued an order on “strengthening our western flank” due to the growing military potential of NATO.
In response to a question about whether this reinforcement would include nuclear weapons, Peskov said: “I cannot say … there will be a full list of measures, the necessary steps. The president will address this in a separate meeting.”
Moscow’s military operations in Ukraine It triggered a dramatic shift in public and political opinion in both Finland and Sweden regarding the long-standing policies of military nonalignment.
Finland said this week that it will decide whether to apply for NATO membership within weeks, and Sweden is also discussing membership.