Russia warns of nuclear escalation if Sweden joins Nato

Russia's former president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that if Sweden joined Nato, it would mean the end of "nuclear-free status for the Baltic", in the toughest threat yet from Moscow.

Russia warns of nuclear escalation if Sweden joins Nato
Russian Iskander missiles, such as those already in Kalingrad, are tested during an exercise in Russia. Photo: TT

Writing on his channel on the messaging app Telegram, Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, said that the Baltic Region could no longer remain non-nuclear if Finland and Sweden join the defence alliance. 

“If this is done, no non-nuclear status of the Baltic will be possible,” Medvedev said. “The balance must be restored.” The result for Sweden and Finland, he continued, would be nuclear-armed Russian ships just “arm’s length” from their homes.

“Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” he added. 

The prime ministers of Finland and Sweden on Wednesday shifted the process leading to Nato memberships up a gear, with Finland’s Sanna Marin declaring that a decision would be taken “within weeks, not months”, and Sweden’s Magdalena Andersson revealing that she wanted to get a decision taken in time for it not to clash with Sweden’s election campaign. 

As well as the nuclear threat, Medvedev warned that Finland joining Nato would force Russia to post more troops and weapons to its northwestern border with Finland. 

“If Sweden and Finland join Nato, the length of the alliance’s land borders with Russia will more than double,” he said. “Naturally, these borders will have to be strengthened.” 

As for Sweden, Medvedev said that Russia would have to “seriously strengthen the grouping of ground forces and air defence (and) deploy significant naval forces in the Gulf of Finland”.

Follow the national Nato debate with The Local’s podcast, Sweden in Focus.

Lithuanian Defence Minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, expressed bewilderment that Medvedev was threatening Sweden with a nuclear Baltic when it was common knowledge that it has deployed nuclear-armed Iskander cruise missiles in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, since at least 2016. 

“The current Russian threats look quite strange when we know that, even without the present security situation, they keep the weapons 100km from Lithuania’s border,” the minister said.

“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.” 

Member comments

  1. Sweden and Finland need to decide if their going to let Russia bully them or make their own decisions.
    Are you going to let Russia decide all the decision for your country and its people? I would think not. Time to stand up and not be frightened by a nation that kill innocent civilians and lies to its own people and controls the lies in the media.
    If Sweden and Norway join NATO both countries will be stronger and united with the rest of the western civilised world.

  2. I find that Swedes are one of the most stubborn and misinformed people in Europe . Life has been too easy for them , and the debate over Ukraine and NATO is a total waste of time as they think they know everything but actually know nothing . It’s sad and to get three warnings from Russia and think it’s a joke that nothing will happen or when they laugh that they have Bomb Bunkers in their homes , shows total ignorance to the danger NATO membership will bring upon their heads . They have lost their Neutrality status , that is no longer associated with Sweden since they started sending military equipment to Ukraine . When you try and discuss this with a supposedly intelligent Swede , they don’t want to hear anything that contradicts the pictures and films they see on Swedish Television . Best of Luck .

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Finland hopes to join Nato with Sweden despite Erdoğan remarks

Finland still hopes to join Nato together with Sweden, the country's foreign minister said on Monday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's weekend remarks that Turkey could accept Finland without its Nordic neighbour.

Finland hopes to join Nato with Sweden despite Erdoğan remarks

“Our strong desire in Finland has been and still is to join Nato together with Sweden,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in Helsinki, adding: “our position remains the same.”

Erdoğan has refused to ratify the two countries’ Nato membership bids, primarily because of Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of suspects that Turkey links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

Sweden has a bigger Kurdish diaspora than Finland and a more serious dispute with Turkey.

Turkey has also reacted with fury to a decision by the Swedish police to allow a protest at which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier this month.

It has also been outraged by a Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to press charges against a pro-Kurdish group that hung an effigy of Erdoğan by its ankles outside Stockholm City Court.

Erdoğan on Sunday drew a clear distinction between the positions taken by Sweden and Finland in the past few months.

“If necessary, we can give a different response concerning Finland. Sweden will be shocked when we give a different response for Finland,” Erdoğan said.

But Haavisto, who said he held talks with his Turkish counterpart following Erdoğan’s remarks, rejected that option.

“Sweden is our closest ally in defence and foreign policy”, he said. “I still see the Nato summit in Vilnius in July as an important milestone when I hope that both countries will be accepted as Nato members at the latest.”