Putin warns Finland, Sweden of ‘response’ over Nato bid

Published May 17, 2022
General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Stanislav Zas, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attend the CSTO summit at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 16, 2022. — Reuters
General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Stanislav Zas, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attend the CSTO summit at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on May 16, 2022. — Reuters

KYIV: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Finland and Sweden on Monday to expect a “response” for applying to join Nato as Ukraine braced for a new push by Moscow’s forces in its eastern Donbas region.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Monday confirmed her country would apply to join the military alliance, the day after Finland — which shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia — said the same.

The two Nordic countries are poised to give up decades of military non-alignment over fears they could be next in line following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24.

Russia, whose war has sparked global outrage, killed thousands and created millions of refugees, warned that Nato’s expansion would have consequences.

The move poses “no direct threat for us... but the expansion of military infrastructure to these territories will certainly provoke our response”, Putin told a meeting of a Moscow-led security alliance.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had earlier called it a “grave mistake with far-reaching consequences”. Russia has already suspended electricity supplies to Finland, citing payment issues.

But Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told lawmakers: “Our security environment has fundamentally changed. “The only country that threatens European security, and is now openly waging a war of aggression, is Russia.”

Despite the resources of its giant neighbour, Ukraine has managed to repel Russian forces for longer than many initially expected, fortified by weapons and cash from Kyiv’s Western allies.

Nato on Sunday promised open-ended support, with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock saying the alliance would provide military assistance “for as long as Ukraine needs”.

Ukraine’s defence ministry anno­unced its troops had regained control of territory on the Russian border near the country’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, which has been under constant attack.

“We thank everyone who, risking their lives, liberates Ukraine from Russian invaders,” Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov said, adding: “We still have a lot of work ahead of us.” Since failing to take the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of the war, Moscow is currently focusing on Donbas, near the Russian border and home to pro-Russian separatists.

However, Western intelligence has predicted its campaign will stall amid heavy losses and fierce resistance.

“We are preparing for new attempts by Russia to attack in Donbas, to somehow intensify its movement in the south of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Sunday.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich told local television Sunday that Russian troops were being redeployed towards Donbas after withdrawing from Kharkiv. They were being sent towards Lugansk and “their task is to take Severodonetsk,” the easternmost city still held by Ukraine.

The fall of Severodonetsk would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of two regions — along with Donetsk — that comprise Donbas.

But Russia’s attempt to cross a river to encircle it has been repelled with heavy losses of equipment, while Russian-occupied railway bridges were blown up, Ukrainian officials said.

Russia continued strikes on the Lugansk region, south of Kharkiv, killing two people and injuring nine during shelling of a Severodonetsk hospital, the Ukrainian presidency said.

Later on Monday the Ukrainian side said a further ten people were killed by Russian strikes on Severodonestsk, according to the local governor.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Warming ties
05 Jul, 2022

Warming ties

BILATERAL ties with the US are clearly on the mend after an extensive rough patch under the PTI government. While ...
LNG emergency
Updated 05 Jul, 2022

LNG emergency

The problem is that Pakistan does not have sufficient cash at the moment to buy even a single LNG cargo at present prices.
The invisible half
05 Jul, 2022

The invisible half

WHAT better illustrates the Afghan Taliban’s misogynistic and mediaeval worldview than the fact that not a single...
Wise counsel
Updated 04 Jul, 2022

Wise counsel

Fuelling the fires of communalism for petty political gains is dangerous and can have a long-lasting impact on India’s stability.
Hazardous waste
04 Jul, 2022

Hazardous waste

GIVEN we have not yet developed streamlined systems for managing locally produced hazardous waste, we are inviting...
Mob ‘justice’
04 Jul, 2022

Mob ‘justice’

OVER the past few days, a string of deadly incidents has been reported from Karachi in which enraged mobs have...