Russians say they are prepared for confrontation with NATO

The Russian government said today that all parties want to avoid a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). But according to Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russia is prepared to give the “most decisive response” if any side tries to enter the conflict in Ukraine.

“Everyone, including Russia, wants to avoid a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO,” Peskov said, quoted by Russian news agency Tass.

According to him, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already declared that “Russia will be ready to give the most decisive response to the side that somehow tries to enter Ukraine and enter the special military operation, which is now being carried out in Ukraine by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”. “Military operation” is the term Russians use to classify the war they are waging on Ukrainian territory, which today has entered its 78th day.

Peskov also said that in the past two months, “there has been no action to resume dialogue” between Russia and the United States, Ukraine’s ally, sending military aid, and which is one of NATO’s main leaders. The spokesman also said again that the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory was a consequence of the Russians not being heard.

The possibility of Finland joining NATO was another point commented on by Peskov. For him, this represents a threat. “NATO’s expansion will not make our continent more stable and secure.” According to the spokesperson, the Russian reaction to the Finnish move will depend on “the extent to which the military infrastructure [da Otan] will approach our borders”.

In addition to Peskov, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also criticized Finland. In a statement, the ministry said it considered the move “a radical change in the country’s foreign policy.” “Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move.”

In a harsher tone than the spokesperson, the ministry said that “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both of a military-technical and of another nature, in order to prevent threats to their national security which arise in this regard”.

Map Russia invades Ukraine - 26.02.2022 - Arte UOL - Arte UOL
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Finland in NATO

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national measures still necessary for such a decision will be taken quickly within the next few days,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement today. “Being a member of NATO would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance,” they said.

The announcement was widely anticipated and signals a major political shift triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The support of the heads of government and state makes it very likely that Finland will formally apply to join the military alliance after decades of neutrality. A debate and a vote in Parliament on the matter are expected for next Monday (16).

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, has gradually increased its cooperation with NATO since Moscow annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Until Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 this year, the country Norseman, however, refused to join the military alliance to maintain friendly relations with his eastern neighbour. Sweden is also expected to break military neutrality.

Popular support for Finland’s joining the alliance reached a record 76%, according to a recent poll, well above the roughly 25% recorded before the war. Several political parties also signaled their support for the measure.


Today, the UN (United Nations) High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, suggested that much of the crimes committed in Ukraine appear to be the responsibility of the Russians.

Bachelet repeated what she said last week, indicating that the actual death toll is likely considerably higher than what is known to date. “In areas of intense hostilities — notably, Mariupol — it has been difficult for my people to access and obtain and corroborate information,” he explained.

According to her, most deaths are caused by explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas, by heavy artillery bombardment, including multiple-launch rocket systems, and air and missile attacks.

“According to our information, while such incidents can be attributed to both sides of the conflict, the majority of these casualties appear to be attributed to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups,” he said.

Bachelet also highlighted how her mission visited 14 towns and villages in the Kiev and Chernihiv regions that, until the end of March, were controlled by the Russian armed forces. “To date, more than 1,000 civilian bodies have been recovered in the Kiev region alone. Some of these people were killed in hostilities, others appear to have been summarily executed,” he said.

(With DW, RFI and Reuters)

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