Russia threatens 'serious military repercussions' if Finland joins NATO

TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a press conference after meeting with French President in Moscow, on February 7, 2022. - International efforts to defuse the standoff over Ukraine intensified with French President holding talks in Moscow and German Chancellor in Washington to coordinate policies as fears of a Russian invasion mount. (Photo by Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP) (Photo by THIBAULT CAMUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Vladimir Putin's Russia today warned of 'serious military and political repercussions' if Finland joins NATO. (AFP via Getty Images)

Russia has warned of "serious military and political repercussions" if Finland joins Nato amid the Ukraine crisis.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the country's accession to Nato, the military alliance currently made up of 28 European countries plus the US and Canada, could "have detrimental consequences".

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine this week, Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin said the debate surrounding Finland's membership of NATO "will change".

Asked about this on Friday, Zakharova began with a veiled warning.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks during the annual news conference of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia January 14, 2022. Maxim Shipenkov/Pool via REUTERS
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned of 'detrimental military consequences' if Finland joins NATO. (Reuters)

In translated remarks at a press conference, she said: "The Finnish government's policy of military non-alliance is an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe.

"At the same time, we cannot help but note the targeted efforts of Nato and other members of this alliance to involve Finland as well as Sweden [a fellow non-member] in this alliance."

She said "the intensity of practical interaction between Helsinki and Stockholm with Nato" is "nothing new".

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She claimed "they have conducted NAato's military exercises - these countries have provided territory for such manoeuvres of this military alliance.

"We have seen this policy over a number of years... and Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging security of other countries. Their accession to Nato can have detrimental consequences... and face military and political consequences."

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 24: Finish Prime Minister Sanna Mirella Marin is talking to media as she arrives in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter for an EU Summit on the situation of the war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium. The European Council demands that Russia immediately ceases its military actions, unconditionally withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraines territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
Sanna Marin said the debate surrounding Finland's NATO membership has changed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Getty Images)

A follow-up tweet from the Russian Foreign Ministry read: "Finland’s accession to Nato would have serious military and political repercussions."

Prime minister Marin previously said last month it is "very unlikely" Finland - which borders Russia - would apply for a Nato membership during her current term of office.

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"All in all, I believe the Nato discussion will increase in the coming years," she had told Reuters.

On Thursday, Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said that he "values the close partnership" with Finland and Sweden even if they are not members.

"This is a question of self-determination and the sovereign right to choose your own path and then potentially in the future, also to apply for Nato membership."

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen Kyiv hit by air strikes, with fighting closing in on the capital.

Families were forced to hide in bomb shelters and subway stations as troops continued their assault in a bid to seize the city.

Tens of thousands of people have fled Ukraine's major cities to try and escape the fighting, with the UN warning on Friday that millions could be displaced.

Armed forces minister James Heappey told MPs that 194 Ukrainians, including 57 civilians, are confirmed to have died.

Watch: Russia invasion of Ukraine 'not as successful as planned', says UK defence minister