Speaking to the press Friday during his short visit, Putin said that Russia will respect Finland’s possible decision on NATO membership.
According to Putin, Russia’s basic approach is that Finland is a neutral country and Russia keeps its own troops well away from the common border.
“Imagine that Finland were to join NATO. That would mean that Finland’s defense forces would no longer be independent, rather part of a NATO infrastructure extending up to Russia’s border,” he said.
Putin added that in such a situation things would change. He let it be understood that in this case Russian troops would no longer stay 1500 kilometres back from the Finnish border, as they do now.
The Russian president went on to say that even so, Russia would respect a decision by the Finns, since it is Finland’s own decision to make.
“NATO would gladly fight Russia to the last Finnish soldier. Russia would not want that. But, it is not our decision, it’s yours,” stated Putin.