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Latest comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin it’s nothing more than posturing after the disastrous campaign in Ukraine, but any comment from a world leader with a nuclear arsenal should be taken seriously, military experts told Fox News Digital.
“I think when Putin says things like that, everything he does is kind of reinforces the point that [Russia’s] not really responding to a legitimate external threat,” said James Carafano, vice president of the Heritage Foundation’s National Security and Foreign Policy Institute.
Finland and Sweden changed their historically neutral positions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, explaining that the “security landscape” in Europe has changed. Turkey has said it will not support any country’s bid to join the alliance, effectively blocking their entry as any bidder requires full support from local members.
But Turkey said on Tuesday now it will support rates after reaching an “agreement” that “opens the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed.
On Wednesday, Putin said Sweden and Finland could “go ahead” and join NATO, but warned that Russia would “retaliate in kind” if either country hosts the alliance’s military or infrastructure.
“I’m not sure that I would see something strategic in this, because at first glance: this is a completely ridiculous statement,” Carafano said. “I don’t think you can really read anything strategic about it.”
Carafano explained that building any such infrastructure would take “months or even years” and the two countries already cooperating with NATO allies even if they are not currently members.
“Finland and Sweden are already cooperating and integrating their forces with the US military, so the notion that any NATO member will allow an outsider like Russia to dictate what deployment infrastructure can be on NATO territory is simply ridiculous at first glance,” Carafano said. said.
Carafano suggested that Putin may have had sarcastic comments, but that “only Putin knows what Putin is going to do.”
“This guy is pretty much a dictator and he has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a military force, so I would never say, ‘Oh my god, he’ll never do that,’” Carafano added. “But if you look at this consistent pattern of Russian behavior where they threatened everything from hinting at a nuclear exchange to military action – in the end, all the Russians did was annoy.”
James Anderson, President Trump’s acting undersecretary of defense for political affairs, argued that Putin needed to save face after he called two neutral countries that have joined the NATO alliance thanks to his invasion of Ukraine.
“[The Russian people] see – and he no doubt fears they will see – his aggressive actions in Ukraine have forced historically neutral countries to seek membership [in NATO]Anderson said: “In a strategic sense, Putin’s invasion has made Russia generally less secure – not only because the invasion failed, but because NATO is now poised to grow.”
Anderson called Putin’s recent comments an attempt “rethink” the course of the war and its results, calling the efforts of Sweden and Finland to join NATO “strategically important”.
“All you have to do is look at the map to see what [Sweden and Finland] are in a geographically important position on the northern flank: NATO will become easier to operate in the Baltic Sea, Anderson explained. “It will also complicate Moscow’s Arctic strategy to some extent.”
“In NATO, there is a division between East and West: there are countries that are closer to the border, including Poland, the Baltic countries … that feel the threat of the Russian bear more directly,” he added. “I think both Helsinki and Stockholm are doing this given what Russia has done in Ukraine and what they fear Putin might do in the future. They want NATO to guarantee Article Five – and who can blame them?”