Freddie Sayers challenges a senior Kremlin spokesperson
Speaking to UnHerd’s Freddie Sayers, First Deputy Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy has said that Sweden and Finland joining the bloc would turn them overnight from neutral into enemy countries and become a “target” for Russia.
“They know that the moment they become members of NATO it will imply certain mirror moves on the Russian side,” he said. “If there are NATO detachments in those territories, these territories would become a target — or a possible target — for a strike.”
“NATO is a very unfriendly bloc to us — it is an enemy and NATO itself admitted that Russia is an enemy. It means that Finland and Sweden all of a sudden, instead of neutral countries, become part of the enemy and they bear all the risks. So they would bear certain defence risks of course, certain economic costs — but it’s up to them to decide… They were living normally as good neighbours with us for tens of years; if they suddenly choose to become part of a very unfriendly bloc, it’s up to them.
The diplomat implied, however, that Russia was not especially concerned about the decision, and that it didn’t change the security situation in Europe.
“I don’t think it will really be a blow to the security of Russia that these two states become members of NATO — hopefully they won’t but if they do it would be the worst solution for them, but not for Russia. Russia is ready to face NATO threats, Russia has made the necessary precautions for this. It doesn’t change very much the security situation in Europe, which is dominated and aggravated by the NATO threat to Russia for many years.”
Elsewhere in the — at times heated — discussion, the diplomat repeated the insistence that there is no war in Ukraine, said that EU membership for Ukraine could no longer be part of any peace deal (which is a change from a month ago), and that he was “absolutely sure” Russia would use nuclear weapons if it faced an existential threat.