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Putin warns of 'problems' for Finland for joining NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he answers questions during his annual press conference with Russian federal, regional and foreign media at the Gostiny Dvor forum hall in Moscow on Thursday. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/EPA-EFE Pool
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he answers questions during his annual press conference with Russian federal, regional and foreign media at the Gostiny Dvor forum hall in Moscow on Thursday. Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/EPA-EFE Pool

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of "problems" for neighboring Finland because it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization earlier this year.

The move, in addition to potentially heightening security tensions in Northern Europe and the alliance's 830 mile border with Russia Northern Europe, it is a blow to Putin, who has cautioned against a NATO expansion

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"They [the West] took Finland and dragged it into NATO!," Putin said in an interview published Sunday by state broadcaster Russia 1. "Why did we have any disputes with Finland? All disputes, including those of a territorial nature in the middle of the 20th Century, have all been resolved long ago."

"There were no problems, but now there will be, because we will now create the Leningrad military district there and definitely concentrate military units there," Putin added in the interview by Russian state broadcaster Russia 1.

"Why do they need this?" he asked.

During the interview Putin threatened that Russia will create a "Leningrad military district" on the border with Finland and amass forces there, but also claimed not to be interested in fighting NATO members.

The Russian leader called remarks from President Joe Biden "complete nonsense." Biden warned earlier this month that Putin would "keep going" if he takes Ukraine, suggesting that Russia could eventually attack a NATO ally and draw American troops into conflict.

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Putin said Russia "has no reason, no interest, no geopolitical interest, neither economic, nor political nor military, to fight with NATO countries," adding Moscow does not have any territorial claims in NATO countries.

"There is no desire to spoil relations with them [NATO countries]. We are interested in developing relations," Putin added.

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