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Russia warns of nuclear weapons in Baltic if Sweden and Finland join NATO

Russia warns of nuclear weapons in Baltic if Sweden and Finland join Nato,

Lithuania plays down threat, claiming Russians already have such weapons in Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad Guardian,   Jon Henley and Julian Borger 15 Apr 2022

Moscow has said it will be forced to strengthen its defences in the Baltic if Finland and Sweden join Nato, including by deploying nuclear weapons, as the war in Ukraine entered its seventh week and the country braced for a major attack in the east.

However, the Lithuanian defence minister, Arvydas Anušauskas, claimed on Thursday that Russia already had nuclear weapons stored in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Lithuania and Poland. That claim has not been independently verified, but the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reported in 2018 that nuclear weapon storage bunkers in Kaliningrad had been upgraded.

The Russian former president Dmitry Medvedev, a senior member of Russia’s security council, said on Thursday that all its forces in the region would be bolstered if the two Nordic countries joined the US-led alliance.

Medvedev’s threat is the latest of many instances of nuclear sabre-rattling from the Kremlin aimed at deterring western military intervention on behalf of Ukraine.

“We’re obviously very concerned,” said the CIA director, William Burns. “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”

But Burns added: “While we’ve seen some rhetorical posturing on the part of the Kremlin, moving to higher nuclear alert levels, so far we haven’t seen a lot of practical evidence of the kind of deployments or military dispositions that we would reinforce that concern.”

Finland and Sweden are deliberating over whether to abandon decades of military non-alignment and join Nato, with the two Nordic countries’ leaders saying Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has changed Europe’s “whole security landscape”.

Their accession to the alliance would more than double Russia’s land border with Nato members, Medvedev said. “Naturally, we will have to reinforce these borders” by bolstering ground, air and naval defences in the region, he said.

Medvedev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, explicitly raised the nuclear threat, saying Finnish and Swedish Nato membership would mean there could be “no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic – the balance must be restored”.

Russia had “not taken such measures and was not going to”, he said. “But if our hand is forced, well … take note it wasn’t us who proposed this.”

Russia borders the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, said Moscow would take the security and defence measures that it would deem necessary if Sweden and Finland join Nato, adding that the move would seriously worsen the military situation and lead to “the most undesirable consequences”.,,…………………..    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/14/russia-says-it-will-reinforce-borders-if-sweden-and-finland-join-nato

April 19, 2022 - Posted by | politics international, Russia

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