Russia Threatens: In Case of Escalation with NATO, Finland Is the First to Suffer

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Finland will be the first country to suffer in case of escalation between Russia and NATO due to its proximity to the former. A high-ranking Russian diplomat told RIA. Finland joined NATO this year after maintaining neutral status for decades, which Russia believes turned Helsinki into a hostile player. “They were living calmly and peacefully and suddenly they find themselves between Russia and NATO as a member of this alliance, but since they are our neighbors, if, God forbid, there is any escalation, they will be the first to suffer,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, said. Russia warned Finland this month over a new defense agreement that gives the United States wide access to Finland’s border with Russia. Meanwhile, Russia would soon deploy its latest howitzers in the Northern Military District, which borders Finland and Norway, the head of state defense conglomerate Rostec said in comments published on Wednesday. Tests of the new Coalition-SV self-propelled artillery units were completed and their serial production had already begun, Sergei Chemezov, head of Rostec, said in an interview with the state news agency RIA. The first prototype batch would be delivered by the end of 2023, he said. “I think they will appear there (in the Northern Military District) in the near future because howitzers of this class are needed to ensure superiority over Western artillery designs in terms of range,” Chemezov said. In December, the Russian media reported that these howitzers had already been used in the war against Ukraine. Before that, Russia summoned the Finnish ambassador over a defense cooperation agreement signed between Finland and the US, who was told that the Russian side “would not leave the NATO military build-up on its border unanswered”.