Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told board members on Friday, May 20 that since Finland and Sweden were looking to join NATO, “adequate countermeasures” were being taken by Moscow.
“By the end of the year, 12 military units and divisions will be established in the Western Military District,” Shoigu said at the meeting, as reported by Russian news agency, Interfax.
“Our closest neighbours, Finland and Sweden, have applied to join NATO. Therefore, as tension continues to grow in the Western Military District area we need to take adequate countermeasures,” he said.
On Wednesday, May 18, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO, which NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called a historic step.
Following the announcement, Turkey blocked Nato’s initial decision to process requests by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.”
Citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter, a report from the Financial Times stated that “the postponement raises doubt that Nato will be able to approve the first stage of Finland’s and Sweden’s applications within one or two weeks, as secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg indicated.”
“It also sets the stage for several days of intense diplomacy between the US, Turkey, Finland and Sweden over the issue,” the person said.
On Sunday, May 15, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that both countries need to lift export bans on Turkey and cease supporting terrorist groups within their own countries if they were to approve the countries’ membership in NATO.
Turkey deems Sweden’s PKK Kurdish militant group a terrorist threat – as do the European Union and the United States – and as such needs assurances that they will stop supporting them.
“There absolutely needs to be security guarantees here. They need to stop supporting terrorist organisations,” Cavusoglu told Turkish reporters in Berlin following NATO foreign ministers’ meeting.
“Our stance is perfectly open and clear. This is not a threat, this is not a negotiation where we’re trying to leverage our interests,” he said.
“This is not populism either. This is clearly about two potential member states’ support for terrorism, and our solid observations about it, this is what we shared.”
Then on Thursday, May 19, it was reported that Croatia was also against the two countries joining the Western defence alliance.
Croatia’s president, Zoran Milanovic said that until Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law is changed the country will block Finland and Sweden’s NATO move.
A change in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral law would make it easier for Bosnian Croats to get their representatives elected to leadership positions.
Milanovic said at the time that Croats in Bosnia are “being destroyed” as a political entity.
“That is not an act against Finland and Sweden but it is for Croatia,” Milanović said.
Milanović highlighted Turkey as an example of fighting for national interests.
He added: “Turkey certainly will not move away from the table before it gets what it wants.”
Milanović said that the issues were of importance to Croatia.
“We can talk about Ukraine, but that is not a burning problem for us. This is,” he said.
“I want Croatian interests in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be modified within the framework of the Dayton (Peace Accords).”
“Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are more important to me than the entire Russian-Finish border,” Milanović underscored.
“Let’s look at what Turkey is doing,” he added.
“It certainly will not go empty-handed yet it is seeking a lot. While we are seeking very little in B&H, a country for which we are guarantors in the Dayton (Accord).”
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