A Kremlin spokesman earlier in the day warned that Finland joining NATO would "definitely" be a threat that would trigger "retaliatory steps" - but stopped short of identifying specific possible courses of action. "NATO is moving toward us. That’s of course why all of this will warrant a special analysis and the development of necessary measures needed to balance the situation and guarantee our security,” the initial Kremlin response stated.
Later in the day Thursday - a number of hours after Finland's president Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced the country will apply for NATO membership "without delay" - Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov elaborated on Moscow's likely response in an interview with Sky News.
"Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of military and other nature, in order to curtail the threats that arise to its national security in this regard," Chizhov stressed in the interview when asked about its neighbor Finland as well as Sweden applying to NATO.
The two countries first sent strong signals regarding this complete U-turn in historic policy last month in response to Russia's ongoing military aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian ambassador said further in the UK television interview that he's "deeply disappointed and saddened" by the development, while saying in a somewhat condescending tone that Finland has been "pushing above its weight, having become in the last few decades a major power in promoting European security architecture."
Further he said the Scandinavian neighbor which shares an 810-mile border with Russia would inevitably become a "NATO backwater" if it does move forward in entering the military alliance. Sky News also quoted Chizov as explaining the following possible change in defense posture:
The ambassador said such a move would "certainly necessitate rethinking of Russian defence posture" but wouldn't "necessarily [involve] troops and tanks, but certain preparations definitely... like radars, perhaps".
Russia's UN ambassador also warned of military consequences in a Thursday statement:
Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy threatens Sweden and Finland:— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) May 12, 2022
"As soon as Finland and Sweden become members of NATO and military units of the alliance are there, these territories will become a possible target for the Russian military"
And as for "technical measures" - it could begin here...
Russia may stop gas supplies to Finland as early as Friday in response to its NATO bid, TASS reports citing Finnish newspaper Iltalehti— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) May 12, 2022
So now the Kremlin appears to be threatening the very thing that Finland fears that it says it must joint NATO to prevent in the first place... but Russia is doing so in response to the possibility that Finland will joint NATO, ironically enough in circular tit-for-tat.
"NATO expansion" is such a powerful euphemism.— Clint Ehrlich (@ClintEhrlich) May 12, 2022
Would the Senate ratify a brand-new treaty that required America to go to war for Finland & Sweden?
Probably not. But the "NATO" label makes it an easy sell!
"NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance," Finland's leaders said in a joint Thursday morning statement.
Another question now remains: will Americans or other lead NATO countries and their populations in the alliance be willing to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia in order to defend Finland?