Russia and China are expressing their grievances after recent disclosures at a NATO summit in Madrid.
Russian President Vladimir Putin responded on Wednesday to the announcement that NATO is expanding into Finland and Sweden by saying that the Kremlin would respond in kind if the alliance deploys troops and infrastructure in those countries.
Putin’s remarks come after the Western defense organization officially invited the Scandanavian countries to become members of the organization in a historic move earlier Wednesday.
Putin said on Russian state television, “With Sweden and Finland, we don’t have the problems that we have with Ukraine. They want to join NATO, go ahead.”
The Russian president made the comments following meetings with local leaders in Turkmenistan, an ex-Soviet state in Central Asia.
“But they must understand there was no threat before, while now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats towards us are created,” he said.
He said it was unavoidable that the Kremlin’s relationships with Stockholm and Helsinki would be harmed over their NATO inclusion.
The statements came the day after NATO member Turkey dropped its opposition to the proposal by Finland and Sweden after the three countries consented to guard each other’s security.
Putin said, “Everything was fine between us, but now there might be some tensions, there certainly will. It’s inevitable if there is a threat to us.”
At the recent NATO summit in Madrid, the alliance singled out China as a strategic priority for the coming decade, for the first time expressing concerns about its increasing military aims, its saber-rattling toward Taiwan and other neighbors, and increasingly close ties to the Kremlin.
China blamed the alliance on Wednesday for “maliciously attacking and smearing” the nation. It said the coalition “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”
“China is not our adversary, but we must be clear-eyed about the serious challenges it represents,” NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
The country “strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains,” NATO said in a statement.
But the alliance stayed “open to constructive engagement” with Beijing.
“Since NATO positions China as a ‘systemic challenge,’ we have to pay close attention and respond in a coordinated way. When it comes to acts that undermine China’s interests, we will make firm and strong responses,” the alliance stated.