Putin hints Russia will react if Finland joins NATO
NAANTALI, FINLAND – President Vladimir Putin suggested on Friday Russia could move its troops closer to the Finnish-Russian border if Finland joins NATO and called for measures to improve conflict prevention over the Baltic.
Finnish armed forces “would become part of NATO’s military infrastructure, which overnight would be at the borders of the Russian Federation”, Putin said after meeting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
“Do you think we will keep it as it is: our troops at 1,500 (kilometers, 900 miles) away?”
Putin’s first visit to Finland since the Ukraine crisis erupted in 2014 comes amid increased Russian and NATO activity in the Baltic region, and with the militarily neutral Finland and neighboring Sweden increasing their co-operation with NATO. It also comes a week before a NATO summit in Warsaw.