As Russia's neighbouring nations Finland and Sweden move closer to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned the West that Kremlin would respond strongly if NATO began to bolster the military infrastructure of Sweden and Finland, Reuters reported.
Amid the fear after Ukraine's invasion by Russia, both the nations had put forward their request of joining the US military alliance which has recently been accepted.
On Sunday (May 15), Finland officially announced that the Nordic country intends apply for membership of NATO, paving the way for the 30-member Western military alliance to expand.
President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland made the announcement of the historic policy shift from the country's traditional neutrality at a joint news conference.
Meanwhile, following the trail, Sweden's ruling Social Democratic Party later gave the green light to a NATO bid for its country, paving the way for the government to apply for membership jointly with Finland.
Putin while addressing a summit of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Moscow, said, "NATO's expansion was a concern for Russia, and that the country needed to pay close attention to the US-led military alliance's efforts to expand its global influence."
Putin, has repeatedly highlighted NATO's post-Soviet enlargement eastwards into Russia's borders as a rationale for the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin said that Russia had no problem with Finland or Sweden, so there was no direct threat from NATO enlargement which included those countries. "But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response," Putin told the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Before the Russian President shared his thoughts on the Nordic nations joing NATO, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the West should have no illusions that Moscow would simply put up with the Nordic expansion of NATO.
"They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it - and nor should Brussels, Washington and other NATO capitals," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the state RIA news agency.
Ryabkhov's statement comes as Russia continues to send warnings to the two nations over NATO membership.
Last month, one of Putin's closest allies stated that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, Russia may place nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
(with agency inputs)