Russia warned Finland and Sweden on Monday saying they were making a “grave mistake” in their moves to join NATO as Ukraine braced for a new push by Moscow’s forces in its eastern Donbas region.
The two Nordic countries are poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment due to fears of aggression from Russia, with which Finland shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border.
Helsinki officially declared its intention to join the NATO military alliance on Sunday and Sweden’s ruling party has also backed membership, with the issue now being debated by both countries’ parliaments.
Russia, whose invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24 has sparked global outrage, killed thousands and created millions of refugees, warned there would be consequences.
“This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told newsmen on Monday, warning “the general level of military tensions will increase.
“They should have no illusions that we will just put up with this,” he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.”
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.”
Ukraine’s Western allies have sent weapons and money to help it resist Russia’s forces, and NATO promised Sunday support for as long as it was needed.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock promised military assistance “for as long as Ukraine needs”.
Since failing to take the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of the war, Moscow has focused on the eastern industrial region of Donbas, near the Russian border and home to pro-Russian separatists.