Kremlin Warns of Countermeasures Amid Sweden’s Progress Toward NATO Membership

July 11, 2023

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday asserted that Russia had plans for countermeasures following forward movement in Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. 

Peskov did not go into detail about what those countermeasures might be, though he stated, “The negative consequences are unambiguous.”

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Turkey agreed to admit Sweden into NATO, setting aside Ankara’s disputes with Stockholm over the treatment of anti-Islam activists and pro-Kurdish groups inside Sweden.

Stoltenberg had met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier in the day in Vilnius, Lithuania, ahead of the NATO Summit there on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Hungary has yet to officially ratify Sweden’s bid, which must be unanimous among all 31 member nations, but last week Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Budapest would back Sweden’s membership once Turkey did so.

On Monday Szijjarto added that it remained just a “technical matter” to close the ratification process by members of Hungary’s Parliament.

In Russia, Peskov also said NATO’s eastward push after the end of the Cold War was “one of the reasons that led to the current situation,” referring to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Peskov also warned against fast-tracking Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership, asserting that it would lead to a direct confrontation between the world’s largest military alliance and Russia.

On Tuesday, Stoltenberg said NATO planned to simplify Ukraine’s pathway to membership from a two-step process to a one-step process, though several leaders of NATO nations, including President Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, have stated that now is not the time for Ukraine to join, in part because it’s at war with Russia.

The NATO membership process can take years, and sometimes decades, though both Sweden and Finland, which became the 31st member of the alliance in April, only applied for membership—abandoning a combined three centuries of military neutrality—in May 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

PHOTO: Swedish President Ulf Kristersson (standing) at 2023 NATO Summit

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