In policy reversal, Putin backs off threats at Nato expansion – Times of India

STOCKHOLM/KYIV : President Vladimir Putin appeared to climb down on Monday from Russia’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato, saying Moscow had no issues with them entering the US-led military alliance they now aim to join in reaction to his invasion of Ukraine. Though the Russian leader said Moscow would take action if Nato were to move more troops or hardware onto the territory of its new members — steps Finland and Sweden have both already ruled out — he said Nato’s expansion itself was not a threat. “As far as expansion goes, including new members Finland and Sweden, Russia has no problems with these states — none. And so in this sense there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion to include these countries,” Putin said.
The comments appeared to mark a major reversal of Russian policy. For decades, Moscow has cast Nato’s expansion to include new members as a direct threat to Russia’s security, including citing it as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine itself. Just hours before Putin spoke, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said Finland and Sweden were making a mistake that would have far-reaching consequences: “They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it. ”
But faced with the prospect that his own actions may cause the very expansion of Nato he had opposed, Putin appears to have decided not to object directly. He did however say Nato enlargement was being used by the US to aggravate an already difficult global security situa- tion, and that Russia would respond if the alliance moves weapons or troops forward. “The expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that will be — we will see what threats are created for us,” Putin said.

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