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Tensions Rise as Putin Warns of "Problems" with Finland for Joining NATO

By Vusala Abbasova December 19, 2023

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In April, Finland became the 31st member of the NATO military alliance, doubling the length of member states' borders with Russia and bolstering its eastern flank amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. / Mikhail Metzel / EPA

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that there will be "problems" with neighboring Finland, after the country joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) earlier this year.

In a recent interview broadcast on Russia 1 TV channel, Putin said Russia will create a “Leningrad military district” in the region, concentrating military units there as a response to Finland's NATO membership.

“They (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 said in an interview published on Sunday.

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden issued a warning that Putin would "keep going" if he took control of Ukraine, implying that Russia may eventually attack a NATO ally and draw US forces into combat. Putin dismissed Biden's comments as “complete nonsense.”

Moscow has no territorial claims in any of the NATO member states, the Russian president stated, adding that Russia “has no reason, no interest, no geopolitical interest, neither economic, political, nor military to fight with NATO countries.”

“There is no desire to spoil relations with them (NATO countries). We are interested in developing relations,” Putin added.

In April, Finland became the 31st member of the NATO military alliance, doubling the length of member states' borders with Russia and bolstering its eastern flank amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. Once part of the Russian Empire, Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830 miles) border with Russia.

Finland’s decision to join the military alliance was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With this decision, the Nordic country put an end to a decades-long modern history of military non-alignment.

NATO was founded in 1949 as a way for Western powers to respond to the growing influence of the Soviet Union. Under a premise covered by Article 5, an attack on one NATO member state is considered an attack on all others, and each state is obliged to support the other members.

Finland’s full NATO membership designs a new security architecture for the country and the entire military alliance. It paves the way for the military bloc to encircle St. Petersburg and expand its presence across the strategic Arctic Circle.

Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine sparked global outrage, has long bristled about NATO moving closer to its borders. Officials in Moscow have repeatedly claimed that the deployment of the alliance’s troops threatens stability near the country’s borders and may trigger a strong response from Russia to ensure its security.