A Russian official on Friday issued a warning to Finland and Sweden should both nations intend to join NATO, saying such moves would have "serious military-political repercussions."
During a news briefing, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova made the remarks as Russian forces continue to battle the Ukrainian military following an unprovoked invasion into the neighboring country.
"Finland and Sweden should not base their security on damaging the security of other countries and their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences and face some military and political consequences," she said in a video clip.
The ministry later posted the same threat on Twitter.
"We regard the Finnish government’s commitment to a military non-alignment policy as an important factor in ensuring security and stability in northern Europe," the tweet reads. "Finland’s accession to @NATO would have serious military and political repercussions."
"Partnership with the alliance is very important for us. While maintaining a strong national defense, we retain the opportunity to apply for membership," he wrote. "It is the sovereign right of each nation to make decisions on its security policy."
In an interview with Fox News, Finnish Ambassador to the United States, Mikko Hautala, said Russia has always voiced opposition to his nation's membership to NATO.
"I think we are really well prepared. We have one of the best armies in Europe. We have a really strong defense. We have really good international partners," he said. "We are not in a position that we would get scared because of one statement. There's nothing new. That's the old Russian position."
"They've been telling that for many, many years," he added.
Ukrainian leaders have expressed a desire to join NATO, but Russia has expressed fierce opposition to an expansion of the 30-member alliance, particularly on its border with neighboring Ukraine.
As of Friday, Russian forces were closing in on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but American intelligence experts have said Ukraine is putting up a greater resistance than anticipated. In an effort to defend the country, the government has handed out arms to citizens willing to fight.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the alliance would defend its member states should Moscow launch an attack.
On Friday, he said NATO deployed its Response Force for collective security after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened the alliance by telling it to withdraw forces from member nations or face consequences.
"This goes far beyond Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. "This is about how Russia is actually challenging, contesting core values for our security. Then warning that NATO should withdraw all forces and infrastructure from almost half of our members.
NATO has not engaged in the conflict and has not sent any troops to help defend Ukraine. On Thursday, President Biden said the United States could get involved should Russian forces move into NATO countries.
"If he did move into NATO countries we will be involved," he said of Putin. "We will be involved."