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Rapprochement with NATO to end Finland's, Sweden's neutrality, Russian lawmaker says

August 28, 2014, 5:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, August 28, /ITAR-TASS/. NATO's signing military cooperation agreements with Finland and Sweden next week will dismantle the neutral status of the two states, a Russian lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Earlier, Finland’s Minister of Defence Carl Haglund said Helsinki and Stockholm would revise their relations with the alliance in connection with completion of the operation in Afghanistan and the Ukrainian crisis.

"Such an agreement means an end to neutrality of these states," head of the committee on international relations under the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament Alexei Pushkov told the newspaper Izvestia ahead of NATO's summit in Wales.

"Until now, they've been NATO partners, but now the level of cooperation will increase dramatically," Pushkov said. "Joining teh alliance is the next logical move after signing this agreement."

For Russia, it means that NATO will move close to Russian borders. Although a large part of Finland's population is opposed to NATO membership, the political elite, in the first place the military, is lobbying it. It will make efforts to brainwash the public and secure its consent, the Russian lawmaker said.

"For Finland and Sweden, signing the agreement and possible NATO membership implies higher defence spending and participation in U.S.-led reckless international schemes," he went on.

The agreement might be ratified this autumn.

"At this point, the main strategy of the US is to join Sweden and Finland to NATO by all means," Finnish political scientist Johan Backman said. " And the main task of the US is obviously to change the public opinion in these countries. And now they are doing it by the means of the press, by the means of recruiting journalists and also by the means of recruiting politicians."

The USA did manage to place its representatives, such as Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who was educated in the USA and worked in Brussels for a long time, he added.

The Russian newspaper said that NATO would have an opportunity to hold military exercises in the territory of these states or use them for military cargo transit. Also, Finland and Sweden will be entitled to assistance in emergencies. That is, a legal document is now in the works to formalize NATO's long-standing relations with Stockholm and Helsinki.

"The idea of rapprochement between Finland and Sweden and NATO was voiced back in 2001," Pushkov said. It was not carried through, but now NATO raised the issue again taking advantage of the Ukrainian crisis.

The incumbent Finland and Swedish government are inclined to listen to what the USA says and Washington will certainly capitalize on it, the Russian lawmaker said.

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