In the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s atrocity-ridden and barbaric invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden announced that they were seriously considering applying for membership in NATO, with applications likely to flow this summer.
Now Putin is making nuclear threats against them, both implied and direct. Putin spoke through his Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev:
There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic—the balance must be restored. Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to. If our hand is forced, well…take note it was not us who proposed this[.]
Not at all. It wasn’t Russia who threatened to put nuclear weapons in the Baltic region. Uh, uh.
Putin’s threat is direct: he will put nuclear weapons into the Baltic region if Finland and Sweden go through with their NATO membership application. Putin’s threat is implied: he will use those nuclear weapons against Finland and Sweden, specifically, if he deems them threats.
Putin’s threat also is dishonest. [N]o more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic? Russia has had nuclear weapons in the region for years. Lithuania’s Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas:
The current Russian threats look quite strange when we know that, even without the present security situation, they keep the weapon 100 km from Lithuania’s border. Nuclear weapons have always been kept in Kaliningrad. The international community, the countries in the region, are perfectly aware of this. They use it as a threat.
Putin’s threats are validation of Finland’s and Sweden’s realization of their need of the mutual protections represented by NATO membership.