Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned Finland and Sweden that if they welcome NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory, Moscow will respond in kind.
While addressing a news conference in Turkmenistan, Putin said, "Only we must clearly and precisely understand -- while there was no threat before, in the case of military contingents and military infrastructure being deployed there, we will have to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats in those territories from where threats have arisen for us," Russian President said as quoted by CNN. He also said that Russia is not bothered if Sweden and Finland join NATO.
"There is nothing that could bother us about Sweden and Finland joining NATO. If they want to join, please," Putin added.
Sweden and Finland are all set to formally end the decades of neutrality and join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in a historic breakthrough for the alliance that deals a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The last major hurdle to the two nations' entry to the bloc was removed when Turkey dropped its opposition on Tuesday, according to CNN.
That breakthrough came during a NATO summit in Madrid that has already become one of the most consequential meetings in the history of the military alliance.
After turkey lifted its opposition, US President Joe Biden on Wednesday thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the start of a meeting.
"I want to particularly thank you for what you did, putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden, and all the incredible work you're going to try to get the grain out of ... Ukraine," Biden told Erdogan during the NATO summit in Madrid.
"You're doing a great job," Biden added.
Turkey has been in discussions with Russia about exporting grain from Ukraine. Erdogan said he hopes diplomacy will help to get grain out of Ukraine, CNN reported.
"I pray that we'll be able to re-establish the balance through diplomacy in order to cultivate positive results, especially with regards to the grain," Erdogan told Biden.
Meanwhile, the NATO summit began in Madrid on Tuesday, allowing the western military alliance to show a joint front against Moscow, and start the process of Finland and Sweden's inclusion in the alliance.
This summit comes as Turkey lifted its veto over Finland and Sweden's bid to join NATO, ending a dispute that tested the unity of the alliance amid the Ukraine conflict. This deal signals a significant shift in security dynamics in Europe as the Nordic countries abandon their decades-long neutrality to enter the military alliance.