A high-ranking Russian official has warned that Russia will deploy nuclear weapons to the Baltic region if Sweden and Finland join the NATO alliance.
Dmitry Medvedev, is deputy chairman of the Russia’s Security Council, and was president of Russia before Vladimir Putin’s latest term.
Medvedev said that if either northern European country joins US-led NATO, Russia will be “forced” to increase its land, air and sea defences in the region, including deploying nuclear weapons.
Notably, Finland shares 1,300km of its border with Russia, making it an immediate neighbour of the superpower.
The news comes after both Finland and Sweden said they are considering joining the alliance out of fear of Russian aggression, potentially within the next few weeks.
However, Medvedev said that if this takes place, there will be no more “nuclear-free” status in the Baltic.
“There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic,” said Medvedev.
“The balance must be restored. Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to.”
He added: “If our hand is forced…take note it wasn’t us who proposed this.”
Medvedev continued: “No sane person wants higher prices and higher taxes, increased tensions along borders, Iskanders [a type of ballistic missile], hypersonics and ships with nuclear weapons literally at arm’s length from their own home. Let’s hope that the common sense of our northern neighbours will win.”
However, Lithuanian defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas claims that Russia originally deployed nuclear weapons to the Kaliningrad region before the war even began.
“Nuclear weapons have always been kept in Kaliningrad…the international community, the countries in the region, are perfectly aware of this,” he said.
“They use it as a threat.”