President Vladimir Putin seems to remain hopeful that he will be able to dissuade Finland and Sweden that joining NATO will do them no good. Warnings from Moscow in this regard occur almost daily. On Monday it was launched by Putin himself during a meeting in the Kremlin of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (ODKB in its acronym in Russian).

“Russia has no problems with these states -Finland and Sweden-, so its possible accession” to NATO does not represent a direct threat to Russia, the Russian president told his colleagues from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. “But the expansion of the Alliance military infrastructure in those territories will certainly provoke our response,” he warned.

In his words, the response measures “will depend on the threats to our security that arise” after the integration of Finland and Sweden into NATO, whose expansion, he added, “is a completely artificially created problem.” Putin asserted that the Atlantic Alliance “is an instrument of US foreign policy and it implements it quite persistently, skillfully and very aggressively.” In his opinion, “all this is aggravating the already difficult international security situation.” He reiterated his hackneyed argument that “Nazi extremists” are part of Ukraine’s leadership.

In the midst of the international isolation to which Russia is subjected for invading Ukraine, the head of the Kremlin wanted to take advantage of the 30th anniversary of the ODKB, a military bloc that intervened in Kazakhstan in January to crush the protests, in order to show that he has allies. And this despite the fact that, except for Belarus, no other member of the group has given its approval to Russia in its offensive against Ukraine.

In his speech during the summit, the Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, who later met alone with Putin, urged those present to maintain a united front against the West, which he accused of “trying to prolong the conflict in Ukraine to weaken Russia as much as possible. Lukashenko described as “hellish” the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on his country and Russia. In addition to the heads of state of Russia and Belarus, those of Kazakhstan, Kasim-Zhomart Tokáyev, Kyrgyzstan, Sadir Zhaparov, and Tajikistan, Emomali Rajmón, were present. Also the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinian. The previous time the ODKB summit was held in person was in November 2019 in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Last Saturday, during a telephone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Putin called Finland’s eventual integration into NATO a “mistake”. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, did say, contrary to what his boss said yesterday, that the membership of Finland and Sweden in the Alliance would be “definitely” a threat. The former president and current number two of the Russian Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, went even further, predicting a possible “nuclear war” as a result of the new orientation taken by Helsinki and Stockholm.