Russia has warned Finland and Sweden against joining Nato, claiming that doing so will jeopardize European stability.
“The alliance remains a mechanism geared toward confrontation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
It comes as US defense officials described Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as a “major strategic miscalculation” that will almost certainly lead to Nato membership.
Officials in the United States expect the Nordic neighbors to apply for membership in the alliance as soon as June.
The idea, which would bring the Western alliance to 32 members, is thought to have Washington’s approval. Last week, US State Department sources claimed that meetings between Nato leaders and foreign ministers from Helsinki and Stockholm had taken place.
Russia requested that the alliance agree to stop any future enlargement before it launched its invasion, but the war has resulted in the deployment of more Nato soldiers on its eastern flank and a boost in popular support for Swedish and Finnish membership.
Finland’s parliament is due to receive a security report from intelligence officials this week, and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said her government aims to “finish the discussion by midsummer” on whether to apply for membership.
Finland and Russia share a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border, which has been shaken by the invasion of Ukraine.
In light of Russia’s strike on its western neighbor, Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic party, which has long opposed Nato membership, has announced it is reconsidering its position. Tobias Baudin, the party’s secretary, told local media that the Nato review should be completed in the coming months.
“Sweden’s security stance altered fundamentally when Russia invaded Ukraine,” the party stated in a statement on Monday.
Moscow, on the other hand, has made it clear that it opposes any prospective expansion of the alliance. Mr. Peskov warned that the bloc “is not the kind of union that provides peace and stability, and its continued extension would not add to the European continent’s security.”
Mr. Peskov warned last week that Russia would have to “rebalance the situation” with its own actions if Sweden did not do so.
In February, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, warned that joining the group would have “military and political consequences.”
Nato was founded in 1949 to oppose the threat of Soviet expansion, while some formerly communist eastern European nations have joined after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In the case of an armed attack on any member state, member states undertake to come to each other’s aid.
Despite the warnings, both countries have continued to pursue their bids and increased defense spending.
Army chiefs in Helsinki revealed a new plan on Monday to spend €14 million (£10.88 million) on drones for Finland’s military.
Last month, Swedish officials announced a three-billion-krona ($317 million; £243 million) increase in defense spending.