- - Friday, July 1, 2016

One of Russia’s long-held grudges with the West has been the expansion of NATO into former Soviet satellites and to the borders of Russia itself. If there is one thing that keeps the Kremlin up at night, this is it. So it is no surprise that Moscow is extremely worried about more of the Nordic states joining the alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the issue at a recent news conference on talks with Finland: “Do you think we will continue to act in the same manner [if Finland joins NATO]? We have withdrawn our troops 1,500 [kilometers from the border]. Do you think they will stay there?”

According to Putin, Moscow will try to start dialogue with NATO in spite of the alliance’s expansion towards Russia’s borders, reported the Russian State News Agency TASS.

“The Finnish president came up with the proposals today at least on the first steps aimed at enhancing confidence and preventing conflicts. I have already said that I agree with this,” Putin said. “We will try to begin the dialogue with NATO at the summit in Brussels.”

The issue of Russian planes in the Baltic airspace without transponders emitting was also raised at the meeting. “The number of NATO planes [with transponders off] is twice as high as that of Russian planes,” Putin said citing statistics, reported RT.

“We welcome the Finnish president’s proposal [to ban flights over the Baltics with transponders off]. Upon my arrival back in Moscow I will order the Foreign and Defense Ministries to raise this matter at the upcoming Russia-NATO Council meeting, which is to take place after the Russia-NATO summit in Warsaw,” he added.

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