“Swedish membership in NATO would have politico-military and foreign policy consequences, and would bring retaliatory measures from Russia.”
These are the words of Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. In addition, Russian ambassador Viktor Tatarsintov has promised “military consequences” to Sweden if they pursue NATO membership, according to a Swedish newspaper on Thursday. However, in the past, Tatarsinkov has promised that Russia has no interest in directing military force at Sweden. What would cause Russia to begin deteriorating Swedish foreign relations?
Sweden is not a member of NATO, but has seriously considered the possibility of becoming one due to recent security concerns in Eastern Europe, namely Russian aggression in Crimea. The Nordic state regularly consorts with NATO states and even participates in collaborative military exercises. The name is true for its neighbor, Finland, who also happens to share an extensive border with Russia.
However, Russia’s innocent tone is subject to suspect. There have been reports of Russian aircraft violating Swedish airspace and of Russian submarines entering Swedish and Latvian sovereign waters. Despite Russia’s accusations that the Swedish media is aligned against them, the facts are clear: the Russian military is encroaching on the territories of several states.
“It is not acceptable to make threats,” says Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, “We are an independent country which makes independent decisions on our security policy.” Wallstrom has recently demanded that Russia explain the comments of its spokespeople.
The Swedish citizenry are still not intent on joining the military bloc, with 37% in agreement, and 36% in disagreement, according to Reuters. However, upcoming events may prove to be vital in public opinion and their decision. The Nordic states of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have expressed their unity on the matter of opposing Russian aggression. If Russia takes further polarizing liberties in international politics, they may lose non-aligned states to NATO and continue to cement their opposition.