Putin warns of 'problems' with Finland after NATO entry

2023-12-19 10:08:26China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that there will be "problems" with neighboring Finland, saying Moscow will create a new military district in northwestern Russia in response to its neighbor's accession to NATO.

Finland's accession to NATO in April marked a major shift in the geopolitical landscape in Europe, and added some 1,300 kilometers to the military alliance's frontier with Russia.

Within a few months of its application to NATO, the Finnish government said it would spend around $143 million on building barrier fences along Finland's 1,340-km eastern border with Russia, which used to have little security protections.

"The West took Finland and dragged it into NATO! Why, did we have any disputes with Finland? All disputes, including those of a territorial nature in the middle of the 20th century, have all been resolved long ago," Putin told Russian state broadcaster Russia 1 in an interview on Sunday.

"There were no problems, but now there will be, because we will now create the Leningrad military district there and definitely concentrate military units there."

The comments came as Finland again shut its border with Russia last week, accusing it of orchestrating a migrant crisis on its border, a claim denied by Moscow.

Putin also dismissed remarks by US President Joe Biden that Russia would attack NATO countries if it won the special military operation in Ukraine as "complete nonsense", adding that Russia has no interest in fighting the NATO military alliance.

In a plea to Republicans not to block further military aid earlier this month, Biden had warned that if Putin was victorious over Ukraine, the Russian leader would not stop and would attack a NATO country.

"It is complete nonsense — and I think President Biden understands that," Putin said, stressing that Biden appeared to be trying to justify his own "mistaken policy" on Russia.

"Russia has no reason, no interest — no geopolitical interest, neither economic, political nor military — to fight with NATO countries."

Meanwhile, Russian Agricultural Minister Dmitry Patrushev said on Sunday that Moscow has no interest in extending the Black Sea grain deal.

He said this is mostly a political decision, but Russia will continue to export its grain as it has its buyers.

"Our grain export volumes, taking into account the winding down of the grain deal, have by no means fallen, they even slightly increased," Patrushev was quoted by state news agency RIA as saying.

In July, Russia withdrew from the deal that had allowed Ukraine to safely export grain from its Black Sea ports. Russia said it quit the deal because the arrangement was not delivering grain to the poorest countries, and because it still faces barriers to its own exports.

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