If Moscow Joins NATO, the Russian Region Will Be “Neutralized,” Says the Ambassador

According to Lithuania’s ambassador to Sweden, Russia’s Kaliningrad region will face neutralization if it decides to challenge NATO in the Baltic Sea.

In a recent post on X, Lithuania’s ambassador, Linas Linkevicius, shared his thoughts on Sweden’s accession to NATO. Linkevicius, who has previously held positions as Lithuania’s foreign minister and defense minister, expressed his views on the matter.

Sweden’s path to joining NATO was finally cleared on Monday as Hungary’s parliament voted to ratify the country’s accession to the military alliance. The approval from Hungary, the last holdout, was crucial as unanimous support from all alliance members is required for a country to join NATO.

Linkevicius states that Hungary’s approval of Sweden’s accession has transformed the Baltic Sea into an “internal NATO sea.”

“After Sweden’s integration into the Alliance, the Baltic Sea has become an internal NATO sea,” Linkevicius wrote on X. “If Russia dares to challenge NATO, Kaliningrad would be the first to be ‘neutralized.’ Russia’s previous false accusations of being surrounded by NATO are now turning into a stark reality.”

On Tuesday, Newsweek sent an email to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, seeking comment.

The Russian fleet has a base in Kaliningrad, which is a heavily militarized exclave of Russia. Kaliningrad is located in the western-most region of the Russian Federation, separated from Sweden by the Baltic Sea. Additionally, the Scottish island of Gotland is situated just over 186 miles away from the shores of Kaliningrad.

According to Linkevicius, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been vocal about his opposition to NATO expansion. He even used the potential growth of the alliance as one of the reasons for his invasion of Ukraine. However, it was the conflict in Ukraine that motivated Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership in May 2022. Finland successfully became a member of NATO in April 2023.

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Lithuania, a NATO member since 2004, has stood by Kyiv as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continues for the past two years. Just last month, the Baltic state declared its support by offering an aid package worth more than $216 million to Ukraine.

Following the announcement that Hungary has ratified Sweden’s NATO bid, numerous Lithuanian officials have expressed their support for this decision. Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, in particular, took to X to praise the expansion of NATO, stating that it would enhance security not only for Sweden and the Baltic-Nordic region but also for the entire NATO alliance and beyond.

“It is a historic day,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.

“NATO and the Baltic region have never been stronger before. Our allies are united and resolute in their collective commitment to safeguard the security and defense of our nations,” Nausėda expressed on X. “We warmly welcome Sweden to the NATO family.”

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