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'Russian mischief' if Finland and Sweden wait on NATO membership - ex-Deputy Sec-Gen
14 May 2022, 18:23
Former Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller tells LBC there will be "opportunities for Russian mischief-making" in the transition period as Finland, and potentially Sweden, await NATO membership.
On Saturday the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a long border with Russia "will decide to apply for Nato membership in the coming days".
Finland and Sweden's efforts to join the alliance were earlier stalled when Turkish President Erdogan said he could not support their entry bids due to Kurdish terrorist organisations operating in both countries.
Speaking to David Lammy, Ms Gottemoeller said: "I was glad to see Boris Johnson step forward and provide that transitional kind of guarantee to Finland and Sweden, because the process [of joining NATO] can take a long time.
"Every single NATO member has to take the decision through its parliament... and these ratification processes can take some time.
"People are saying six months, I bet get it's going to be more like 12 months."
"In the meantime, I do believe that Finland and Sweden will get a lot of support from across the alliance, but there will be some opportunities for Russian mischief-making in the transition period", Ms Gottemoeller continued.
Ms Gottemoeller said such mischief could include "hybrid actions, cyber attacks, that type of thing, rather than direct military arracks because the Russian armed forces are fully preoccupied in this dreadful invasion of Ukraine".
"I don't see them having leftover military forces to throw at Finland and Sweden", she said.