Finland and Sweden officially applied to join the 30 members of the NATO alliance earlier today, an action that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov referred to as a “grave mistake.”
"Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging an unprovoked attack on a peaceful and democratic Ukraine. War is raging in Europe on a scale not seen since the Second World War," Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said. "The Russian propaganda can no longer hide the true nature of Russia's corrupt and autocratic regime. It cannot hide Russia's war crimes. This is a time when the democracies of Europe and North America must stand together against Russia's naked aggression.”
Membership will benefit the training and interoperability of Sweden's armed forces, he said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said the United States strongly supports Sweden's application for membership, and noted that the militaries of both nations routinely train together.
Another grave mistake: Russia
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the countries’ decisions to join the NATO military alliance “serious mistakes.”
"This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences," Ryabkov told reporters on Monday. “The general level of military tensions will increase.”
He added, “It is a pity that common sense is being sacrificed for some phantom ideas about what should be done in the current situation.”
“They (Finland and Sweden) should have no illusions that we will just put up with this," Ryabkov threatened.
Turkey to block Finland and Sweden NATO bids?
Another country that is bothered by the Nordic countries’ desire to join the NATO is Turkey, but for different reasons. Without the support of all NATO members, Sweden and Finland cannot join the military alliance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is angered by their willingness to host Kurdish militants. He described Sweden as a "hatchery" for terrorist organizations.
"Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organization. How can we trust them?" Erdogan said.
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are followers of Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. Three years later, both Nordic nations slapped an arms embargo on Ankara after its incursion into Syria.