Niinistö: Russia’s comments on Finland’s possible Nato membership are nothing new

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Niinistö: Russia’s comments on Finland’s possible Nato membership are nothing new

President Sauli Niinistö spoke to the media in Helsinki on Friday, 25 February 2022, after virtually attending a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the primary decision-making body of Nato. (Seppo Samuli – Lehtikuva)

PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö has appeased concerns kindled by a statement made by Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the possible Nato membership of Finland and Sweden.

“[T]he admission of Finland and Sweden to Nato […] would have serious military and political consequences that would require retaliatory steps by our country,” she stated according to Euractiv.

Niinistö on Friday reminded Helsingin Sanomat that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has commented on the possible memberships in similar fashion also previously.

“You should be as accurate as possible when it comes to these. I’ve noticed that this is being cited as a threat with military action. That’s not what it says precisely,” he said. “I don’t see any change [in the messaging from Russia].”

A similar analysis was provided by Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens).

“It was possible for us to say that we’ve heard this before. We ourselves don’t think that it’s placing emphasis on a military threat, but that if Finland’s is Nato’s external border, I’m sure Russia would take it into consideration in its own defence planning. I don’t see that there’s anything new here,” he stated to YLE.

Finnish foreign and security leadership has stated that a decision on the defence alliance will be made irrespective of the actions of Russia.

“There are currently no acute discussions about Finland applying for Nato membership,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) stated on YLE A-studio on Thursday. “These kinds of decisions wouldn’t be made in a rush.”

“Russia’s actions won’t influence these decisions.”

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also commented on the statement in brief following an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the principal decision-making body of Nato, on Friday. Finland and Sweden both attended the meeting as so-called enhanced opportunity partners and are usually invited to meetings that deal with issues of relevance to them.

“I want to be absolutely clear. It’s Sweden that decides by itself and independently our security policy line,” she stated to SVT, the Swedish national state-controlled television broadcaster.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT


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