The Kremlin has announced that nuclear weapons will be stationed in Kaliningrad if Finland and Sweden join NATO.
Mitry Medvedev – the deputy head of Russian Security Council – also warned that Russia would “seriously strengthen its ground forces and air defense systems” if the two Nordic countries gave up their neutral status.
“It will no longer be possible to talk about a non-nuclear status for the Baltic States. The balance needs to be restored,” Mr Medvedev said on his Telegram channel.
Russia’s only access to the Baltic Sea is via Kaliningrad, an exclave between Lithuania and Poland that was conquered by Germany in World War II.
It then became part of the Soviet Union.
Positioning nuclear missiles in the exclave would give the Kremlin the ability to attack most central European capitals.
Finland and Sweden are traditionally neutral countries.
However, they both said that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine changed their thinking.
Sweden has reportedly already made the decision to join the alliance. Finland is likely to follow.
Finland, which shares a 1,339 km border with Russia, has a particularly strained history with Moscow.
In November 1939 the Red Army invaded.
This sparked a three-month conflict that left 150,000 dead.
Mr Medvedev said NATO will not give additional defenses to Finland or Sweden,
only higher taxes and “increased tensions at their borders”.
He added: “Let’s hope the sanity of our northern neighbors still prevails.”
Ingrida Simonyte, Lithuania’s Prime Minister, said Russia’s threat to increase its military presence in the region was “nothing new”.
“Kaliningrad is a very militarized zone – and has been for many years,” she said.
Russian short-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead have been stationed in Kaliningrad since 2016.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/kremlin-issues-nuclear-threat-to-nato-bound-finland-and-sweden-41555651.html The Kremlin pronounces a nuclear threat for the NATO-bound countries Finland and Sweden