Putin, in the midst of war, threatens Finland and Sweden


Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the Russian people on the eve of his invasion of Ukraine. Credit: BBC

   Seemingly to backtrack his threat if Sweden and Finland become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russian President Vladimir Putin now sees NATO on Russia’s northern border as posing a threat to Russian national security.  

   Vladimir Putin seems not to acknowledge the nuclear missiles already within 62 miles of the Baltic Sea.  So, why is Putin escalating tensions with NATO by threatening the countermeasure of missiles already positioned?  Has Putin become delusional from his unofficial blood cancer, or are his threats the act of a desperate autocratic leader who has failed to achieve his goal in Ukraine?  

   If Putin’s goal were to push back the boundaries of NATO countries from Russia’s borders, he might have actually caused the expansion of NATO closer to Russia.  When Sweden and Finland announced the intention to seek membership in NATO, Putin could feel backed into a corner.  Because Russia shares an 810-mile boundary and if Finland were to join NATO, Putin might think that he has no recourse but to threaten or to remind the West of Russia’s nuclear missiles positioned only 62 miles from the Baltic.   

   Because of the large portion of Russians living in Ukraine, Putin invoked protecting those Russians from persecution at the hands of the so-called Nazis within Ukraine as the basis for his invasion.  And, because perhaps as many as one million Russians live in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, Putin could rationalize and justify invading and occupying these Baltic states as Russia has done before after World War II to bring these states into the USSR.

   “Russia has no problems with Finland and Sweden, [the expansion of NATO] does not pose an immediate threat to [Russia],” Putin said Monday.  He will consider the building of military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden as requiring a response.   A Kremlin spokesperson stated that the issue “causes concern” for Russia, and it will watch developments “very carefully.”  Only last week, the Kremlin threatened retaliatory steps if Finland followed through with its intention to become a member of NATO.  

   In an unexpected renunciation on Russia’s state-owned television channel, the Russian defense columnist Mikhail Khodaryonok gave a stark but honest portrayal of the Russian aggression into Ukraine, not as a “special military operation” but as an act that has isolated Russia with the “entire world…against [Russia].”  

   The columnist, one of the first highly-respected former military leader, gave Russian viewers a dose of reality and a warning not to be naive by swallowing “information tranquilizers” being dispensed by the Russian reports.  Such reports that the Ukrainian army suffers from low morale, he said, “all of that,…is false.”  He emphasized the importance of maintaining “military-political realism” in describing the failures of the
Russian army in Ukraine.  

   His warning to the Russian people is the “reality of history,” which will bring only regret.  He also issued a warning to Putin and other Russian leaders who threaten Finland with “saber-rattling with missiles” is an “amusing” and hollow threat that needs to stop.  

   Military columnist Khodaryonok might be the first indication of an impending coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Other intelligence and military officials have been predicting that the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), will attempt an overthrow of Putin’s government while he is hospitalized for cancer treatments.