United states

Russia warns of nuclear deployment if Sweden and Finland join NATO

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev delivered a speech during a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow, Russia, February 21, 2022. Sputnik / Alexei Nikolsky / Kremlin through REUTERS

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

I’m registering

  • Russia warns of nuclear deployment
  • He says Iskander and hypersonic missiles will be deployed
  • Finland and Sweden are considering NATO membership
  • Lithuania: nothing new in Russia’s threats

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) – One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland join the US-led military alliance, then Russia will have to step up its defense in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 miles) border with Russia, and Sweden are considering joining the NATO alliance. Finland will make a decision in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday. Read more

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, then Russia would have to strengthen its ground, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

I’m registering

Medvedev also explicitly raised the nuclear threat, saying he could no longer talk about a “nuclear-free” Baltic – where Russia has its own Kaliningrad exclave, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

“We can no longer talk about the status of the Baltic Sea without nuclear energy – the balance must be restored,” said Medvedev, who was president from 2008 to 2012.

“To date, Russia has not taken such measures and will not do so,” Medvedev said. “If our hand is forced well … note that we did not offer this,” he added.

Lithuania has said that Russia’s threats are nothing new and that Moscow deployed nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad long before the war in Ukraine. Read more

The eventual accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO – founded in 1949 to provide collective Western security against the Soviet Union – would be one of Europe’s greatest strategic consequences of the war in Ukraine.

Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and waged two wars against it during World War II, during which it lost part of its territory to Moscow. On Thursday, Finland announced a military exercise in western Finland involving forces from Britain, the United States, Latvia and Estonia.

Sweden has not fought a war for 200 years, and post-war foreign policy has focused on supporting democracy internationally, multilateral dialogue and nuclear disarmament.


Kaliningrad is of particular importance in the northern European theater. Before the Prussian port of Koenigsberg, the capital of East Prussia, it is less than 1,400 km from London and Paris and 500 km from Berlin.

Russia said in 2018 that it had deployed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, which had been captured by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union at a conference in Potsdam.

Iskander, known as NATO’s SS-26 Stone, is a short-range tactical ballistic missile system that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

Its official range is 500 km, but some Western military sources suspect that it may be much larger.

“No sane person wants higher prices and higher taxes, increased border tensions, Iskanders, hypersonic and nuclear-powered ships literally within arm’s reach of his own home,” Medvedev said.

“Let’s hope that the common sense of our northern neighbors will win,” Medvedev said.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvidas Anusauskas said Russia had deployed nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad before the war.

“Nuclear weapons have always been stored in Kaliningrad … the international community, the countries in the region are fully aware of that,” Anusauskas was quoted as saying by BNS. – They use it as a threat.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 killed thousands, displaced millions and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States, the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

Putin says a “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the United States used Ukraine to threaten Russia, and Moscow had to defend itself against the persecution of Russian-speaking people from Ukraine.

Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style seizure of land and that Putin’s allegations of genocide are nonsense. US President Joe Biden has said Putin is a war criminal and a dictator.

Putin says the conflict in Ukraine is part of a much broader confrontation with the United States, which he says is trying to impose its hegemony, even as its dominance over the international order wanes.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

I’m registering

Report by Guy Falkonbridge; Edited by Hugh Lawson

Our standards: Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.