The Russian ambassador to Sweden has reportedly warned the country that it would face military “consequences” if it decides to join NATO.
In an interview published by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and reported by Business Insider, Viktor Tatarintsev - the Russian ambassador to Sweden - said that Russia currently does not harbor any military plans against Sweden.
Tatarintsev added that this could change depending on Sweden’s future decision on whether to join NATO.
“Putin pointed out that there will be consequences, that Russia will have to resort to a response of the military kind and reorient our troops and missiles,” the ambassador said. “The country that joins NATO needs to be aware of the risks it is exposing itself to.”
The ambassador also said he didn’t think the issue of Sweden joining NATO will be relevant in the near future, and accused Swedish media outlets of portraying Russia as an aggressor that only thinks of waging war and threatening others.
Countries in the Baltic region and Scandinavia have been on standby for a possible Russian intervention in Europe after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine last year.
This spring, Russia was accused of deliberately chasing away a Swedish vessel with warships while it was being deployed to the Baltic Sea to lay undersea power cables between Lithuania and Sweden.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a naval vessel from the Russian Northern Fleet forced a Swedish vessel to abandon its work a total of four times between March 29 and April 30 while it was overseeing the deployment of the 400-kilometer cable in Lithuanian waters.
In October, a large military operation by Sweden took place in waters off Stockholm to search for “foreign underwater activity,” widely speculated to be caused by a damaged Russian submarine, in what might have been the gravest violation of Sweden’s maritime sovereignty since the Cold War.
Since 1814 Sweden has maintained an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs, including throughout both world wars. At the end of the Cold War, Sweden became a member of the European Union but did not join NATO.
While Sweden is not a NATO member it participates in two other military alliances: The Nordic Defense Cooperation alongside Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, and the EU Nordic Battlegroup alongside Finland, Norway, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.