Russia has said the decision of Finland and Sweden to join the NATO military alliance was a serious mistake and that the Scandinavian countries will have to face consequences.
"This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences. The general level of military tensions will increase .. It is a pity that common sense is being sacrificed for some phantom ideas about what should be done in the current situation," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to Moscow Times.
The Russian official added that security of Finland and Sweden would not be enahanced by their joining the US-led military alliance.
The stern reaction from Moscow came after Finland confirmed on Sunday that it is moving its application for membership in Nato. President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint news conference in Helsinki the country was kickstarting the Nato membership process.
Finland's Parliament could likely endorse the government's decision in the days ahead.
Sweden's ruling party, Social Democrats, have also openly supported filing for Nato membership. "Europe, Sweden and the Swedish public are living a new and dangerous reality ... The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join Nato," said Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson.
With these two nations abandoning decades-old neutrality, Russia will be forced to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on its border with Europe, Kremlin has already suggested.
On Monday, Ryabkov reiterated the threat against Finland and Sweden. "They should have no illusions that we will just put up with this," he said.
Russia shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Finland.
If Finland and Sweden join NATO, the strength of the western security bloc will go up from 30 to 32, and will be a morale booster for the US, which has so far failed to stop the Russian war in Ukraine.
End of Cordial Relations
For Russia, the move will be unacceptable as the core reason for their Ukraine campaign is the opposition to NATO expansionism. Ukraine's refusal to guarantee that it will not join the US-led security alliance, coupled with other geo-strategic reasons forced President Vladimir Putin to launch the attack on Ukraine in February.
In both Finland and Sweden, which have maintained cordial ties with the eastern neighbor, the public sentiment changed in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to Russian state television, Kremlin is mulling the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on its European borders if Nato sets up military bases in Finland and Sweden.
"When Nato bases appear in Sweden & Finland, Russia will have no choice but to neutralise the imbalance & new threat by deploying tactical nuclear weapons," a commentator on Rossiya One said, according to the Daily Mail.