Russia slammed for 'ruthless war' by Finnish minister
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Tytti Tuppurainen, Finnish minister for European affairs, told Sky News that Finland’s decision to join NATO has nothing to do with “escalation”, nor is it a “threat”. After Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin this morning, Ms Tuppurainen claimed Finland’s security had been compromised “since Russia started its ruthless” war in Ukraine. And she suggested Finland could offer “added value” to the alliance should they be accepted as a member.
The Finnish minister said: “We are going to make our own decisions concerning our security arrangements. We are in a different situation since Russia started its ruthless and illegal war in Ukraine.
“We have done profound work in our democratic parties that has just made the decision in the party council with overwhelming support that Finland should seek membership for NATO.
“So that will be our own choice and it is not against anyone. NATO is a defensive alliance and it’s time for Finland to get allies and more partners, because it’s about security.
“We have a neighbour that we’ve seen is able to act and wage a very ruthless war.
“We are prepared for all kinds of evil and nastiness against us but there’s absolutely no panic.
“We are not afraid. We have been preparing for all kinds of actions. But this is about Finland and our position, and we will certainly bring added value to the whole alliance.
“We have a very strong conscript army – we have just made the decision to buy six F-35 fighters – and we are well equipped. We will be a resource to the alliance. No escalation, no threat.
“Let us remember that it is not Finland nor NATO that has acted aggressively. There is only one aggressor in Europe and it’s Russia – it is Putin. He is to blame and this is one of the consequences of his game.”
Putin told Mr Niinisto earlier today that Finland’s accession to NATO could have a “negative impact” on relations between the two countries and that it would be a fundamental “mistake”.
The Kremlin said: “Vladimir Putin stressed that 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.”
They then described the call as a “frank exchange of views”, normally a diplomatic euphemism for a difficult conversation.
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Niinisto’s office said he told Putin “how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland”.
He said Finland wanted to handle relations with its Russian neighbour in a “correct and professional manner”.
Niinisto added: “The conversation [with Putin] was direct and straightforward and it was conducted without aggravation. Avoiding tensions was considered important.”
Finland’s membership bid is expected to be followed by a similar move from Sweden, leading to a further expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a prospect that Putin had hoped to avoid.
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