Finland should expect Russian 'military buildup' warns ex-foreign minister

15 May 2022, 20:19

Finland should expect Russian 'military buildup' warns ex-foreign minister
Erkki Tuomioja, a Finnish MP and former foreign minister, said his country should expect a Russian 'military buildup' after formally applying to join NATO. . Picture: Alamy/LBC

By James Bickerton

Erkki Tuomioja, a Finnish MP and former foreign minister, said his country should expect a Russian 'military buildup' after formally applying to join NATO.

Both Finland and Sweden are seeking to join the western alliance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This ends decades of neutrality from both countries and has infuriated the Kremlin.

Speaking to Rachel Johnson on her LBC show Mr Tuomioja said NATO membership will change the way Russia sees Finland.

He argued: "Russia will have a different view about the border with Finland than previously.

"Previously they did not see our national defence as any sort of threat to themselves.

"But when they have a NATO country as a neighbour they will inevitably regard those armed forces as potential enemies and therefore we can expect there will be Russian military buildup along the Finnish frontier."

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Mr Tuomioja explicitly linked his country's bid for NATO membership to Putin's war in Ukraine.

The ex-minister explained: "The Russian brutal attack on Ukraine created a situation where Finns started to be very concerned about their security.

"The way Russia has used military force in a brutal manner, without any justification, raised the issue whether this could also happen to Finland.

"While I do not myself expect any Russian attack, even if we're not in NATO, it's understandable this has raised the issue of our military security to greater heights and led to the situation where we have sought to have extra guarantees of our security."

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto announced his country was seeking to join NATO earlier on Sunday, which he branded "a historic day".

Russia has warned the two Scandinavian nations will face unspecified "consequences" in reply.