“We consider the statements of the NATO Secretary General about the readiness to accept these countries into the alliance as an unceremonious attempt to exert external pressure on the policies of Finland and Sweden, with which we have long-standing friendly relations,” the Russian Foreign Minister said in a statement.

He called non-bloc status the most effective way for states to ensure their own security "in the current turbulent time."

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Sweden and Finland meet NATO standards in most areas. 

He stressed that they can become members of the alliance "very quickly" if they make such a request.

On January 12, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that any expansion of NATO worries Russia.

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