Reacting to the possibility of Finland joining NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow would be forced to retaliate.

Iran PressEurope: Russia has slammed Finland’s plans to apply to join NATO imminently, claiming it would “be forced” to retaliate if the long-neutral country joined the military alliance.

“Finland joining NATO is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday. “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop threats to its national security arising.”

The statement comes shortly after Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the country should apply to join NATO “without delay.”

On February 21, Vladimir Putin first criticized the West for not paying attention to Moscow's security concerns, declaring that his country had recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and signed cooperation and friendship agreements with their leaders at the Kremlin. Later, on February 24, Putin ordered a special military operation in the Donbas region in response to a request for military assistance from the Donetsk and Luhansk leaders. 219