- Russian officials are changing their tune as Sweden and Finland announced they want to join NATO.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would probably make “not much difference,” Reuters reported.
- Just last week, Russia said it would have to take “retaliatory steps” if the countries were to join NATO.
Russian officials are making an abrupt about-face as Sweden and Finland announced they want to join NATO, with Russia’s top diplomat now saying the moves are no big deal after weeks of Russian officials making dramatic threats over the possibility.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would probably make “not much difference,” Reuters reported.
“Finland and Sweden, as well as other neutral countries, have been participating in NATO military exercises for many years,” Lavrov continued.
“NATO takes their territory into account when planning military advances to the East. So in this sense, there is probably not much difference. Let’s see how their territory is used in practice in the North Atlantic alliance,” Lavrov said, according to Reuters.
This new language comes on the heels of weeks of threats from the Kremlin.
On Thursday, a Russian foreign ministry statement said “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security arising in this regard.”
Both countries overturned decades of neutrality by choosing to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.