Putin warns Finland has 'made a mistake' after country's president tells him they WILL join NATO – despite Russian threat it could wipe them and Britain out in SECONDS with nukes - as Lavrov says 'total hybrid war' has been declared
- Putin: 'Abandoning [...] neutrality would be a mistake since there are no threats to Finland's security'
- Russia's attack dog foreign minister Sergei Lavrov slammed 'cancel culture' and 'caveman's Russophobia'
- 'The collective West has announced a total hybrid war on us. The consequences will be felt by everybody'
- '[Sec Gen] Stoltenberg, through the mouth of Liz Truss, say NATO has responsibility for global security'
- Finnish President Niinistö told Putin about NATO plans in 'direct and straightforward' phone call this morning
- Pro-Putin MP fumed: 'If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate - to question the existence of this state. This is logical.'
- He added that the US would be reduced to 'nuclear ashes' if it 'threatens' the Russian state
Vladimir Putin told the President of Finland he is making a 'mistake' by joining NATO as it faces 'no security threats' in a phone call this morning.
And in a speech on the 80th day of the war in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: 'The collective West has announced a total hybrid war on us.
'It is difficult to forecast how long this will all last, but it is clear that the consequences will be felt by everybody without exception.'
Finland and Sweden's efforts to join NATO met a hurdle when Turkish President Erdogan said he could not support their entry bids because of Kurdish terrorist organisations operating in the Nordic countries.
All 30 NATO member states must sign off on each new entrant.
Erdogan's top foreign policy advisor clarified today that the country is 'not closing the door' on the countries' bids.
Ibrahim Kalin: 'We are not closing the door. But we are basically raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey.'
The Kremlin attack dog added: 'We've done everything to avoid a direct clash but the challenge has been thrown to us and we accept it. Cancel culture against everything Russia is being used against us.'
'We are doing everything we can to defend the interests of our citizens abroad. Ukraine is an instrument, a tool, to contain Russia's peaceful development,' he said.
As US President Joe Biden held a joint call with Finland's leaders on Friday to support their NATO application, Russian officials responded with furious bluster, with one threatening to reduce the US to 'nuclear ashes' if America 'threatens' the Russian state.
Sergei Lavrov told a press conference that Westerners will oppose Russia 'to the last Ukrainian'
'The West is opposing Russia to the last Ukrainian, especially the United States which is [fighting] from beyond the ocean,' said Lavrov.
'Now [Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg, through the mouth of Liz Truss, say NATO has responsibility for global security issues.'
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said his conversation with Putin was 'conducted without aggravations' as both parties worked to 'avoid tensions'.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine and cyber-attacks on Finland and Sweden have 'altered the security environment' in Helsinki, Putin was told.
According to a Russian readout of the call, Putin said: 'Abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, since there are no threats to Finland's security.'
It wasn't revealed how long the call went on or whether Niinisto had consulted other world leaders before speaking to Putin.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (pictured left, at a press conference last week) initiated the call. Right: Putin (pictured during a Security Council meeting on Friday) stayed calm, Helsinki reported
Finland, whose President today called Putin to reveal his plans to join NATO, would be wiped out in seconds, Duma defence committee deputy chairman Aleksey Zhuravlyov boasted.
Zhuravlyov's wild threats signal frustrations at Putin's faltering invasion of Ukraine - and ire at Finland's NATO bid.
The news came as Russia cut off electricity supplies to Finland this morning. The Nordic country imports ten per cent of its electricity from Russia.
President Sauli Niinistö phoned Putin this morning to discuss his country's plans to join NATO, he said.
Russian state TV showed how quickly Putin's Satan-2 nuclear missile could reach British shores
A readout from the Finnish president's office stated: 'President Niinistö told President Putin how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia's massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland.
'President Niinistö noted that he had told President Putin already in their first meeting in 2012 that every independent nation maximizes its security. This is what is happening now, too.
Turkish President Erdogan (pictured last week) stunned NATO members when he announced Turkey would not support Sweden and Finland's bids to join the bloc. His spokesperson clarified today: 'We are not closing the door'
Mr Niinistö added: 'The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important.'
Russian power flows to Finland stopped as the state-owned importer has not received payments.
RAO Nordic had warned on Friday: 'Unfortunately, we are forced to note that for the volumes which have been sold on Nord Pool exchange since May 6 funds have not yet been credited to our bank account.'
There's enough electricity in Finland even without imports from Russia, according to Fingrid Oy, which operates the country's transmission system.
Those flows have recently accounted for around ten per cent of consumption, it said in a statement.
Zhuravlyov told Russian state media: 'If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate - to question the existence of this state. This is logical.
'If the United States threatens our state, it's good: here is the Sarmat [Satan-2 missile] for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist.
'And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.
'The Finns in general should be grateful to Russia for their statehood, for the fact that Finland exists as a country.'
Finland will become the sixth NATO member to share a land border with Russian territory
Putin ally Aleksey Zhuravlyov boasted that Britain could be attacked in just over three minutes
Asked if Russia would now rebase nuclear weapons onto its border with Finland, he said: 'What for? We don't need to.
'We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK.
'And if we strike from Kaliningrad... the hypersonic's reaching time is 200 seconds - so go ahead, guys.
'On the Finnish border we will have not strategic weapons, but Kinzhal-class, one that will reach Finland in 20 seconds, or even 10 seconds.'
He said Russia would massively strengthen its military forces on its western flank.
The Satan-2 Sarmat missile is a 208-ton, 15,880mph intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
The news came as Ukrainian rockets fired from trucks on farmland made several crucial hits against Russian forces
'This is natural. If so far we had not predicted possible hostilities on the part of Finland, then now they are quite possible.
Who is Aleksey Zhuravlyov?
Fiery Putin ally on Russian parliament's defence committee has boasted about how quickly nukes can reach Finland and the UK.
In December last year he called for United States Congressman Ruben Gallego to be kidnapped and jailed for his support of arming and training the Ukrainian military.
A month later he claimed Russia should put nuclear weapons in Cuba and Venezuela as a response to military aid from NATO given to Ukraine and Georgia.
He is chairman of the Rodina political party, a far right nationalist party, which supports Vladimir Putin in the State Duma.
In a tweet sharing the video with a western audience, Julia Davies, creator of Russian Media Monitor, said: 'Russian TV keeps threatening nuclear strikes against Western nations, desperately trying to deter them from continuing to help Ukraine.
'On a side note, this is the first state TV host who doesn't seem to be eager to die for the Motherland, arguing with a trigger-happy lawmaker.'
'And this must be taken into account, without a doubt.'
He claimed Finland is being provoked into joining NATO by the US and Britain.
'The Finns have nothing to share with us. They receive more than 90 per cent gas, timber and much more from us.
'Who needs fighting first of all? The Finns? They are not afraid that Russia is attacking them. 'Of course, sooner or later the Americans will force them to do so.
'Just as they forced Ukraine to do it, they are trying to force Poland and Romania. And, as practice shows, they succeed.
'It is impossible to say that Finland will join NATO and behave towards us as before - this will not happen. The Americans will incite them to provocations.
'We endure for a long time. But this cannot go on forever.'
Reflecting a view among hardliners around Vladimir Putin he said: 'The United States will do everything possible to make World War III happen.
'Just not on their territory.
'They will try not to lead to nuclear strikes, but they will try to draw the whole of Europe into a conflict with Russia, inflame the situation in Asia, [and] set fire to as many countries as possible .
'For them this will be a very good way out of the internal economic crisis.
'They will be able to attribute all their problems to the war, as they already did in the First World War and the Second World War.
'They got out of their crisis only thanks to the war in Europe. But there is a big danger: who guarantees that nuclear missiles will not fly? I do not guarantee this.'
Asked by Ura news outlet if Russia could strike first with nuclear weapons, he replied: 'Certainly.'
Asked under what conditions, he replied this would happen if the existence of Russia was threatened.
Finland and Sweden were now 'joining an Alliance that wants to destroy Russia. Therefore, we want to destroy them in response.'
Asked about Baltic countries Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, he said Russia would crush them when necessary.
'We are definitely not afraid of these peanuts,' he said.
'They are as nasty as stink bugs. But they will need to be crushed when necessary. Now the bug is small and smelly.
Putin (pictured yesterday) has provoked frustration as the invasion of Ukraine has faltered
British soldiers participate in an exercise as NATO allied troops carry out Swift Response 22 exercises at Krivolak army base, North Macedonia
'They would have put forward territorial claims against us, as Estonia wanted to do. Well, try it. They follow exactly the same path as Ukraine. Let's see where it takes them.'
He claimed that St Petersburg - Putin's birthplace - could be NATO's first target in a war with Russia.
'This is the main goal [in this direction]. This is beyond any doubt,' he said.
'The question is different. Today we are conducting a special operation, saving every life of the civilian population, and the Ukrainian Nazis, on the contrary, because these are not their people, and for them the more victims, the better.
'If the Finns want to destroy a certain part of our population, if they strike at St. Petersburg, this threatens to destroy all of Finland as a state. Well, how else? 'How can a normal person perceive this: you have destroyed a little bit - we have a little bit? No, it won't.'
Italian paratroopers parachute after jumping from C-130 aircraft in today's NATO drills
Russia's new 'big beast' hypersonic Sarmat is a 208-ton 15,880mph intercontinental ballistic missile.
Putin has said the weapon is 'unstoppable' by the West with 'no analogues…in the world for a long time to come'.
It is due to be deployed this year.
Recently warmonger TV anchor Dmitry Kiselyov, 68, told his Russian TV audience that Britain should be flooded twice with Putin's most advanced nuclear weapons.
He proposed use of Satan-2 to wipe England from the map.
Next, Russia should 'plunge Britain into the depths of the sea' with its 'underwater robotic drone Poseidon' causing a 1,640ft tsunami.
Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev warned this week of the risk of nuclear war.
The Kinzhal hypersonic missile has been deployed with conventional warheads in the Ukraine war - but is also nuclear capable.
Russia separately urged its people not to travel to Britain, and vowed to block UK citizens seeking to enter its country.
Mr Johnson and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto at a press conference in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Wednesday
It is unclear if the moves presage a more serious diplomatic rift with London.
The move coincided with the UK sanctioning Vladimir Putin's supposed lover Alina Kabaeva, 39, an Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast and pro-Kremlin media company executive.
Moscow blames Britain for acting as a Western coordinator and cheerleader of the tough NATO response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said: 'Taking into account the extremely unfriendly course of the UK towards our country, in order to avoid financial losses and other possible problems, we recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from traveling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas.
'Until the situation is normalised, we will act in the same way with respect to the British.'
The statement said: 'Recently, the Russian Foreign Ministry has received numerous complaints from Russian citizens that it has become virtually impossible or extremely difficult for them to obtain a visa to the UK.
'We are talking not only about tourists, but also about Russians working in the United Kingdom on contracts, as well as those who want to visit relatives or reunite with their families.
British soldiers prepare for Swift Response 22 exercises carried out by NATO allied troops in eastern Europe last week
'In this regard, the issue of the current unacceptable situation was raised with the British embassy in Moscow, and they demanded clear explanations regarding the essence of the problem.
'According to the explanations of the British, at present the UK Visa Service allegedly gives priority to the processing of visa applications for Ukrainian refugees.
'For this reason, consideration of applications for British visas of Russians is significantly delayed.'
The ministry complained that 'the situation is aggravated by the aspect associated with the mandatory prepayment of the consular fee by bank transfer after filling out the electronic questionnaire.
'Given the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by London, it will not be possible to pay with Visa or Mastercard cards of the Russian issuing bank, since this must be done on the British website.
'They directly pointed out to the British that this approach of London to ordinary citizens of our country contradicts all previously reached Russian-British agreements on consular issues.
A rocket is fired from a truck-mounted Ukrainian missile launcher on a farm in Svyatohirsk, eastern Ukraine today
'They also declared the absolute unacceptability of such a dismissive attitude towards the Russians.
'The corresponding actions of British officials can only be described as a politicised infringement of the rights of Russian citizens.'
The news comes as Russia's attempt to pivot its invasion to southern and eastern Ukraine continues to fail.
Putin's forces initially hoped to take Kyiv and decapitate Ukraine's leadership in an all-out war, but faltered amid rugged resistance and a spate of military failings.
Russian tanks were pictured yesterday sunk in the Donbas river after failing twice to cross the strategic point.
Russia reportedly lost an entire battalion under Ukrainian rocket fire as troops tried to cross the eastern Donbas river
Ukrainian forces are trying to hold the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychans'k from Russian troops, which have almost managed to surround them. The river crossing attempt was designed to complete the encirclement, but was foiled
Russia lost a whole battalion trying to cross the river on May 8 after Ukraine discovered plans - and made a second attempt on Thursday.
The army has lost more than 70 vehicles and seen two infantry battalions mangled in four days of attempts to bridge the river, according to Ukrainian investigative site InformNapalm.
Why are Sweden and Finland not already in NATO?
Both Finland and Sweden have been militarily non-aligned since WWII.
Sweden maintained its policy of neutrality - which had begun in the early 19th century - throughout the war wanting to avoid being drawn into a conflict that was engulfing the nearby powers of Germany and the Soviet Union.
Instead, Sweden profited from its neutrality by exporting iron ore to the Nazis and sharing military intelligence with the Allies and training their refugee soldiers.
Meanwhile Finland changed sides in the conflict, first being invaded by Joseph Stalin and assisting the Nazis, before fighting against Hitler's troops.
When NATO was formed in 1949 for a Western military alliance, Sweden decided not to join and continue its neutrality, introducing a security policy that secured its non-alignment in peace and neutrality in war.
In 1994, Stockholm decided to join the NATO programme Partnership for Peace (PfP), aimed to build trust between member states and other European countries, but until now it has not signalled a desire to fully join the alliance.
Finland is also a PfP member but has similarly stated its desire to remain neutral since the war.
The EU member state was part of the Russian Empire and won independence during the 1917 Russian revolution but it nearly lost it fighting the Soviet Union in World War Two.
Having been invaded by Russia in 1939 and sharing a long border with the superpower, Finland wanted to stay out of future conflicts, giving it the freedom to maintain a strong relationship with Moscow and the West while enjoying a free market economy.
It is just the latest humiliation for Putin's army - once ranked second in the world - after commanders failed to capture the capital Kyiv, were beaten back from Mykolaiv by a rag-tag band of territorial defence troops and civilians, and got their Black Sea flagship Moskva sunk by Ukrainian missiles.
Commanders are now trying to seize control of the Donbas region - cynically claiming that was their true objective all along - but have so-far failed to make any significant breakthrough in almost a month of fighting, with Kyiv claiming Russia has suffered 'colossal' losses.
Russian military experts linked to the feared paramilitary Wagner Group of mercenaries blasted the 'military genius' of the leaders who bunched up the battalions so close together, making them sitting ducks for Ukraine.
Sweden and its closest military partner, Finland, have until now remained outside NATO, which was founded in 1949 to counter the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
The two countries are wary of antagonising their large neighbour but their security concerns have increased since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Stockholm is widely expected to follow Helsinki's lead and could apply for entry to the 30-nation military alliance as early as Monday.
Kalin said the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union - was fund-raising and recruiting in Europe and its presence is 'strong and open and acknowledged' in Sweden in particular.
'What needs to be done is clear: they have to stop allowing PKK outlets, activities, organisations, individuals and other types of presence to...exist in those countries,' Kalin said.
'NATO membership is always a process. We will see how things go. But this is the first point that we want to bring to the attention of all the allies as well as to Swedish authorities,' he added. 'Of course we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with Swedish counterparts.'
Turkey, the second-largest military in NATO, has officially supported enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago.
For years it has criticised Sweden and other European countries for their handling of organisations deemed terrorists by Turkey, including the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Article 5 of NATO's founding treaty says an attack on any NATO country should be seen as an attack on all. While Sweden and Finland have long had close relations with NATO, they are not covered by its security guarantee.
Turkey has criticised Russia's invasion, helped arm Ukraine - which is not in NATO - and tried to facilitate talks between the sides but opposes sanctions on Moscow. It wants NATO 'to address the concerns of all members, not just some,' Kalin said.
Asked whether Turkey risked being too transactional at a time of war, and when Finnish and Swedish public opinion favours NATO membership, he said: 'One hundred percent of our population is very upset with the PKK and FETO (Gulenist) presence in Europe.'
'If they (Finland and Sweden) have a public concerned about their own national security, we have a public that is equally concerned about our own security,' he said. 'We have to see this from a mutual point of view.'
Kalin said Russia's sharp criticism of Finland and Sweden over their plans was not a factor in Turkey's position.
When Russia last tried to seize Finland... and failed
More than 80 years ago, the small Finland took on the might of the Soviet Union when dictator Joseph Stalin ordered an invasion after its government refused to give up substantial territory.
The Winter War of 1939-1940 – which began less than three months after the start of the Second World War – saw Finland's forces use innovative tactics to defy Russia's hopes for a quick, emphatic victory that could have landed Stalin control of the whole country.
Instead, Soviet troops – who numbered around one million – were fiercely resisted for nearly three months, with dramatic photos showing how vehicles and equipment had to be abandoned in the face of the opposition and freezing conditions.
In that time, Russia suffered more than 300,000 casualties – including 126,900 deaths - and lost up to 3,500 tanks and around 500 aircraft.
By comparison, Finland lost 25,900 men out of an original force of around 300,000.
Stories of Finnish heroics include that of a Finnish farmer who became the deadliest sniper in history after killing 505 Soviet troops.
In the fighting, Finland also pioneered the use of the improvised grenade the Molotov cocktail, which was named after the Soviet Union's foreign minister.
Ultimately however, the sheer numerical superiority of the Soviet Union's forces took its toll and Finland's government was eventually forced to sign a peace agreement that forced them to give up around ten per cent of their territory.
Despite the defeat, Finland emerged with its sovereignty intact and its international reputation enhanced, whilst the Soviet Union was kicked out of the League of Nations and was condemned by other world leaders for the illegal invasion.
Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä emerged a hero after racking up the most sniper kills in the history of warfare.
Aged 33 when the war broke out, Häyhä quickly acquired a fearsome reputation, striking the enemy unseen and unheard from hidden positions up to 300 yards from his target.
Nicknamed The White Death, Häyhä was a prime target for the Soviets, who targeted him with mortars and heavy artillery to halt his killing spree, which once claimed 25 men in one day.
Finland then allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviets in what was known as the Continuation War in 1941, with Helsinki trying to retake its lost territories.
After a ceasefire was agreed in the Moscow Armistice in 1944, Finland was ordered to expel Nazi troops stationed in the country, prompting the Lapland War with Germany.
At the Paris Peace Treaty, Finland was classified as an ally with Nazi Germany and ordered to pay reparations.
The country then pursued a policy of neutrality, maintaining a free market economy and democracy despite enjoying a strong relationship with the Soviet Union.