According to the presidential office, Niinistö notedthat Finland’s security environment was fundamentally changed by “Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022” and Moscow’s demands from the end of 2021. Then, like the day before reminded Niinistö, Putin demanded from NATO to abandon further expansion to the east. The Finnish leader believes that by doing so, the Russian colleague encroached on the right of Finland and Sweden to determine their own security policy.
As stated in a press release from the Office of the President, Niinistö, during his first meeting with Putin in 2012, announced the desire of every independent country to ensure its security. “This is what is happening now. By joining NATO, Finland strengthens its own security,” the publication says. At the same time, the report emphasizes that “Finland wants to correctly and professionally resolve practical issues that arise due to the fact that it is a neighbor of Russia.”
The phone call was initiated by the Finnish side. According to Niinistö, the conversation “was direct and frank” and “passed without escalation.” The parties tried to “avoid tension,” the President of Finland noted.
In turn, Russian President Vladimir Putin declaredthat abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality “would be a mistake, since there are no threats to Finland’s security.”
“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which for many years have been built in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership cooperation, and have been mutually beneficial,” the Kremlin’s website says.
The leaders of the states also discussed the situation in Ukraine. Niinistö “reiterated his deep concern about the human suffering caused by the war Russia is waging in Ukraine” and stressed the “peace imperative”, according to the Finnish President’s Office. He also heard messages about securing civilian evacuations given earlier in the week by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
For his part, Vladimir Putin shared his assessment of the state of the negotiation process between Russian and Ukrainian representatives. As stated in the Kremlin’s communique, Kyiv “does not show interest in a serious and constructive dialogue.”
Finland’s accession to NATO
The day before Sauli Niinistö declaredthat he is going to call Vladimir Putin and discuss with him the country’s desire to join NATO. “I’m not the kind of person who does things around the corner. I intend to call him and let him know that the situation has changed, as we both know. <...> We will not be able to return to what we are used to, but Russia should be interested in ensuring that we do not have great tension on the border, ”said the president.
Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin at a meeting of Parliament on February 23 statedthat the country will apply for membership in NATO if the issue of national security becomes acute. A week later, on March 5, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö informed about the readiness of Helsinki to discuss joining the alliance, as the attitude of citizens towards this issue has changed.
“The situation has changed both in Finland and in Sweden. For the first time, the majority of people, judging by the polls, are in favor of [вступление в НАТО]so we are open to discussing this with parliament,” he said.
On May 12, Sauli Niinistö and Sanna Marin, in a joint statement, supported the country’s application to join NATO on an “urgent basis”. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekko Haavisto said that Helsinki will file it at the end of the month if this intention is approved by Parliament.
Sweden also announced its intention to join NATO. how wrote Swedish newspaper Expressen, citing its sources in the government, Stockholm may apply to join the North Atlantic Alliance as early as May 16.
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