Ambassador: Finland, Sweden joining NATO would create headaches for Russia

Sven Sakkov on 'Esimene stuudio'.
Sven Sakkov on 'Esimene stuudio'. Source: ERR

The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO would create headaches for Russia in terms of the Kaliningrad exclave, Estonia's ambassador to Finland, Sven Sakkov, says.

Appearing on ETV politics talk show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday evening, Sakkov said: "In fact, for instance, the strategic situation regarding Kaliningrad in terms of Russia's strategic situation would be very different, if Finland and Sweden join NATO. how to protect it-"

"so far it has had a so-called military value, but I predict that in the future, from Russia's point of view, it will be more of a military problem, on how to protect it," Sakkov added

Sakkov added that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would also reduce concerns over the so-called Suwalki gap, a short, 104-km stretch of border between NATO member states Poland and Lithuania, bookended by Kaliningrad to the west and the "mainland" Russian border to the east.

He said: "NATO is becoming significantly stronger in northern Europe; the problem of the Suwalki corridor or the Suwalki gap is getting significantly reduced, the security of supply is improving and we will actually have an ally with a very, very strong army, making us much stronger militarily."

Finland has so far delayed stating an official position on joining NATO, Sakkov said, in order to create as short a time-lag between making the announcement and actually becoming a member of the alliance – for fears of a Russian retaliation.

Sakkov also noted that Finland's media has said that in joining NATO, the country would be responsible in a major way for the defense of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but said that this is not the case – certain zones of protection are not allocated to specific nations in the alliance, he said.

"For instance, the idea of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroups do not entail sending our forces to Latvia, Latvia sending theirs to Lithuania, Lithuania to Poland etc. That would be absurd. Instead, the idea is to risks and share the burden with these states that are in relative safety in the west, particularly the larger NATO countries and especially the nuclear powers," Sakkov went on.

Finland nonetheless has something to offer towards Baltic security, he went on.

"It also has something to influence the enemy in a conflict situation. For example, Finland has aircraft-launched cruise missiles with a range of 450 km."

While Finland has reportedly asked some of the allies for security guarantees in the meantime, those countries applied to had not promised anything officially, Sakkov added, noting that once the country had joined, larger organized military exercises would be viable and NATO allies could also be present on the ground in Finland.

Both Finland and Sweden have been seriously looking at NATO membership since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, two-and-a-half months ago.

Finland may opt to apply for NATO membership on May 12, according to one unconfirmed report, while Sweden will reportedly have the final results of a security policy review, including the pros and cons of membership, a day later.

Sweden has also been seriously beefing-up its defenses on the strategically important Baltic Sea island of Gotland (Ojamaa, in Estonian).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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