Published On: Wed, Mar 13th, 2024

Vladimir Putin to send troops to Finland border as he issues thinly veiled threat to NATO | World | News

The Russian President has threatened to send troops to the Finnish border in a major escalation, according to local media.

Vladimir Putin branded Finland and Sweden’s formal ascension to the defensive alliance a “meaningless step” and Russia is poised to deply “systems of destruction” to the border, as well as troops.

Finland formally joined NATO as the 31st member in April 2023 and on Monday Sweden became the 32nd member.

Meanwhile, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has no intention of taking part in a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland, even if it gets an official invitation.

Speaking in an interview with RIA state news agency and Rossiya-1 state TV ahead of the Russian presidential elections, Putin said: “This is an absolutely meaningless step (for Finland and Sweden) from the point of view of ensuring their own national interests.”

According to Reuters, he added: “We didn’t have troops there (at the Finnish border), now they will be there. There were no systems of destruction there, now they will appear.”

Last month Helsinki opted to keep its border with Russia closed, over concerns that the Kremlin would once again attempt to send thousands of migrants across in an effort to destabilise the Nordic country.

Finland closed the border in 2022 after 1,300 migrants without proper documents or visas made it over the border. This number of crossings was highly unusual. The majority of them were from the Middle East and Africa – particularly from Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.

One of Finland’s key NATO allies, the United States, yesterday announced the sale of air-launched cruise missiles to Poland amid growing concerns over Russian volatility.

Poland, which spends more on defence in terms of a percentage of GDP than any other state in the NATO alliance, including the US, borders both Ukraine and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the sales of 821 Lockheed Martin AGM-158B-2 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles with Extended Range (JASSM-ER), 745 RTX AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), and 232 RTX AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles to Poland on March 12.

The DSCA said: “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

“The proposed sale will improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing advanced, long-range strike systems for employment from Polish Air Force air platforms. This sale will further advance the already high level of Polish Air Force interoperability with US joint forces and other regional and NATO forces.”

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