Russia Warns Sweden About NATO Membership, May Deploy Missiles

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, March 7, 2009From Dagens Nyheter:  Excerpts from Michael Winiarski interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In recent years tension has increased in the Nordic region and much attention has been given to Russia’s action in the Baltic Sea area. Both Sweden’s defence management and Nato have established that military activities have increased very substantially on Russia’s part in recent years….

Considering the military situation in Europe, on the basis of the relationship Russia-Nato and Sweden’s neutral status, we are not interested in pressing for increased military confrontation. Confidence and openness are essential and it is important that we understand one another’s military doctrines. There was a dialogue of this nature between Russia and Nato. And we have always warned against the continual eastward expansion of Nato. It is the right of every country to determine the forms for its security but you must understand that if military infrastructure draws close to Russian borders we will naturally take the necessary technical-military measures. There is nothing personal in that, it is just pure business….

Is Moscow concerned about the closer relationship between Sweden and Nato? What counter-measures will Russia take if Sweden decides to join Nato?

It is one thing to have neutral neighbouring countries in the north, and another to have neighbours who are members of the North Atlantic alliance. As I said, we regard Nato to be a reality, however recently the alliance has unequivocally declared that its goal is to hold back Russia, which is characterised as “the major threat”. You can therefore join different Natos. When previously we had a partnership and confidence and didn’t try to see each other as a “threat”, that was one kind of Nato. It is clear that today’s Nato is different.

Like every state, Sweden is entitled to independently decide the forms for how it wants to arrange its security, starting from its national interests. If Sweden decides to joint Nato, we don’t believe for that matter the Swedes will attack us. But since the Swedish military infrastructure in that situation will be subordinate to Nato’s high command, naturally we will take necessary technical-military measures at our northern borders, since on the other side there is a military political block that regards Russia as a threat and attempts in every way to hold her back.

What concrete measures?

That is not my job, it is a matter for our military forces, the defence ministry and the Russian general staff. When they see what kind of potential there is on the other side of the border ‒ directly at our border or a bit further from the border, then they will know what the capacity is and what can be expected of it if Nato suddenly decides to stop us in a “hot” manner.

From RT:  Russia will reply to Sweden’s entry into NATO by increasing the numbers of its military forces, in particular on its northern and northwestern frontiers, the deputy head of the upper house Committee for Defense and Security says.

“We are talking not only about some technical measures, we are talking numbers as well. Russia will increase the strength of its military forces on the northern and northwestern borders if Sweden becomes a NATO member, this also includes the North Sea Fleet,” RIA Novosti quoted Senator Evgeny Serebrennikov as saying on Friday.

He added that Russia might reply to NATO expansion by deploying to its northern regions the newest missiles that NATO systems cannot intercept.

Image: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, March 7, 2009 (photo: Jean-Marc Ferre/UN)