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Russia is furious that Finland is joining NATO but can't do much about it - The Washington Post


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/14/finland-russia-nato-ukraine-retaliation/
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Summary

In a telephone call Saturday, Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that Finland’s decision to join NATO is “wrong” and could have “a negative effect” on Russian-Finnish relations — but he didn’t make specific threats, according to a readout from the Kremlin.Niinisto, who initiated the call, bluntly told Putin that it was above all his “massive invasion” of Ukraine that prompted Finland to seek the protection afforded by the NATO security alliance, according to a statement from his office.“The conversation was direct and straightforward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” the statement said.In the weeks preceding Finland’s announcement, Russian officials had warned of dire repercussions, including the deployment of nuclear weapons in the vicinity and the dispatch of military reinforcements to the Finnish border.They have since been more circumspect, saying Russia’s response will depend on how far NATO goes toward establishing a presence on Russia’s border.The decision will require Russia to offer a “political reaction,” Russian news outlets quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Saturday — a step back from the “military and technical” response threatened by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday.He also said it was “too early to talk about the deployment of nuclear weapons in the Baltic region” and added that “Moscow will not be guided by emotions” in deciding its response.Russia will conduct a “thorough analysis” of any new configuration of forces on its border before deciding on its response, he said, echoing Peskov’s comments that the degree of Russian retaliation will depend on how much NATO military infrastructure will be established on Russia’s borders.No decisions have been reached on what kind of presence NATO will establish in Finland and Sweden once their accession has been formalized, which could be several months away. Its military is already well integrated with NATO military systems.So great is the threat to Russia’s strategic interests that Moscow will be compelled to take some form of action against Finland, said Dmitry Suslov of National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.At a minimum, he said, Russia will need to fortify its military presence along the Finnish border because Finland will no longer be considered a “friendly” country.

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