The Russian Foreign Ministry again condemned Finland’s bid to join NATO, calling it “unbalanced" and "counterproductive" in comments reported by state news agency RIA Novosti Thursday.
“As for Finland's decision to join NATO, it can hardly be considered balanced,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a briefing in Moscow. She claimed the decision was taken “under the influence of an unprecedented anti-Russian media campaign” and without proper public debate.
“We understand that the United States of America and a number of its allies are behind this political campaign," she added, without providing evidence.
Zakharova said the move would only exacerbate the military and political situation in Europe. Russia has repeatedly asserted Helsinki's decision will be counterproductive, and that it has already negatively impacted Russian-Finnish relations.
Some context: Finland and Sweden announced their intention to join NATO in May 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the Nordic countries to abandon their long-held non-aligned status.
The move was a setback for Moscow, with the war triggering the kind of NATO enlargement that Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent.
Finland and Sweden’s applications were welcomed by almost all NATO leaders, but under the alliance's rules, just one member state can veto a new applicant’s membership.
Finland's bid took a major step forward when Turkey and Hungary, which had to that point been the key holdouts, agreed to start the process of ratifying Finland's membership last week.
On Thursday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö signed legislation that approves the country’s bid to join NATO.
Sweden's parliament approved its own bid to join NATO Wednesday, but the Swedish government still awaits Turkey and Hungary's go-ahead.
CNN's Yusuf Gezer, Amy Cassidy and Jack Guy contributed to this report.