Pentagon said that Russia's warnings against Sweden and Finland's alliance membership bids are ?concerning?
The United States is prepared, if needed, to provide Sweden and Finland with military support as these countries await NATO's response to their membership applications, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has said.
On Sunday both Finland and Sweden formally announced their intention to join NATO, despite multiple warnings from Russia. Moscow, which considers NATO expansion as a direct threat to its own security, has previously pledged to take adequate measures in response.
In a BBC interview which was recorded on Friday and broadcast on Sunday, Kirby said that Russia's warnings are "clearly concerning."
"But it is not up to Russia to determine whether Finland and Sweden become NATO allies, it's up to the people of Finland and the people of Sweden," the US military spokesman said.
When asked if the US would send troops to defend Finland and Sweden if they were attacked, Kirby first said that he would not want to speculate on a hypothetical scenario but nevertheless gave a detailed response.
He stressed that both Finland and Sweden "have very modern militaries" that US forces "are comfortable working with." Close relations between Washington and the two northern European countries, in Kirby's opinion, would allow Washington to provide Helsinki and Stockholm with military assistance.
"If in the period of their application to NATO and their accession to NATO they would need some additional capabilities or support ... we will be able to provide some additional support if needed," he said.
Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, and Sweden decided to reconsider their long-standing policy of non-alignment following a major change in public opinion after the launch of Russia's attack on Ukraine. According to recent polls, a majority in both countries now support membership of NATO.