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Giving up neutrality to join NATO would be ‘wrong’, Putin tells Finland – POLITICO

Giving up military neutrality to join NATO would be “a mistake,” Russian leader Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in a phone call on Saturday, the Kremlin said.

The two countries said their presidents spoke on the phone, two days after the Finnish government formally endorsed the idea that Finland should join NATO.

“Such a change in the orientation of the country’s foreign policy could have a negative effect on Russian-Finnish relations, which have been built over many years in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership and are mutually beneficial. “, the Kremlin said. mentioned.

Niinistö told Putin “how Russian demands in late 2021 to prevent countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 fundamentally changed Finland’s security environment” , according to his office.

He added that Finland aims to apply for NATO membership “in the next few days”.

Moscow had previously warned that it would respond to Finland’s NATO membership with “military-technical” retaliatory measures, but did not specify what measures it was considering.

Russia halted electricity deliveries to Finland on Saturday, citing “problems in receiving payments for electricity sold on the market”.

On Saturday, Finland’s ruling Social Democratic Party approved the government’s decision. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Niinistö will hold a decisive final meeting on Sunday.

The country is moving towards NATO membership in parallel with neighboring Sweden, which has also reconsidered its reluctance since Russia’s invasion. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to announce their decision on Sunday. If they decide in favor, the two countries could officially apply as early as Monday.