Russia’s ambassador to Sweden has warned the country of the potential military “consequences” associated with joining NATO in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, The Local reports.
Russian Ambassador Viktor Tatarintsev told Dagens Nyheter that Russia does not have any military plans against Sweden, in line with Stockholm’s alliance neutrality.
But Tatarintsev warned that this could change if Sweden were to join the NATO alliance.
“I don’t think it will become relevant in the near future, even though there has been a certain swing in public opinion. But if it happens there will be counter-measures,” Tatarintsev said according to a translation from The Local.
“Putin pointed out that there will be consequences, that Russia will have to resort to a response of the military kind and re-orientate our troops and missiles,” the ambassador said. “The country that joins NATO needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.”
Currently, Sweden does not have any plans to join NATO. The country has stayed out of competing alliances between the West and Russia since World War II. However, public support for NATO membership is quickly rising.
An October 2014 poll showed 37% of Swedes were in favour of joining NATO with 36% of Swedes against — the first time that more Swedes have favoured joining the alliance than not.
This swing in public opinion could be in response to a series of aggressive and provocative Russian actions throughout the region. On September 17, 2014 two Russian military aircraft crossed into Swedish territory. Shortly after that, a Russian military aircraft — flying with its transponders turned off — passed dangerously close to a commercial jet in the south of the country.
Most provocatively, the Swedish military believes that Russia sailed submarines into its waters in the fall of 2014, leading to a sub hunt that became Sweden’s largest military operation since the end of the Cold War.
Although Sweden does not belong to NATO, the country is a participant in two other military alliances.
Alongside Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, Stockholm is a member of the Nordic Defence Cooperation. Sweden is also a member of the EU Nordic Battlegroup alongside Finland, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
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