Putin warned Finland

Speaking to his Finnish counterpart over the phone, President Putin warned his Nordic neighbors that he would be making a mistake if he abandoned the policy of neutrality and joined NATO.

“President Vladimir Putin stressed that it would be wrong for Finland to give up its traditional policy of military neutrality because its security does not face any threats,” the Kremlin announced on May 14 in a phone conversation between the Russian president and his Finn on the same Day at counterpart Sauli Niinisto.

Putin said that the change in foreign policy in Helsinki could have a negative impact on Russia-Finland relations, which “have been developed over the years based on the spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation.”

The Russian President also informed his Finnish counterpart that the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine “almost came to a standstill because Kyiv has not shown its desire for a serious and constructive dialogue”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in Moscow on March 31.  Photo: Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in Moscow on March 31. Picture: Reuters.

According to a statement from the Finnish President’s Office, Finland is the party that requested a phone call between the leaders of the two countries. Mr. Niinisto informed Putin in a phone call about his plan to apply for NATO membership in the next few days.

Helsinki argues that the way Moscow asked the West to block certain countries from joining NATO in late 2021 and the military operation in Ukraine since February have fundamentally changed the security environment for Finland. The Finnish President’s office announced that the prospect of joining NATO would be decided in the next few days.

According to Niinisto, Russia’s request to prevent countries from joining NATO until the end of 2021, as well as Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, have changed Finland’s security environment. He said Finland wants to manage its relations with Russia “properly and professionally”.

“The dialogue is direct, open and the parties do not feel uncomfortable talking to each other. The important goal is to avoid tension,” Mr Niinisto shared on Twitter.

President Niinisto noted that he told President Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that every independent country wants to maximize its security and that Finland applies this principle in the current context. “By joining NATO, Finland will strengthen its security and take on more responsibilities,” the Finnish President’s Office said.

Mr. Niinisto reiterated his deep concern about the humanitarian situation in the war in Ukraine and reiterated that peace is the greatest wish. He also delivered a message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to President Putin calling on Russia to help ensure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones.

Alongside Finland, Sweden is planning to join NATO. Moscow has repeatedly warned that it is willing to view the two neighbors’ NATO accession process as a security threat, but has not said specifically how it should respond once that process has begun.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe.  Graphic: Statista.  Click on the image to see details.

Seven Decades of NATO Advance in Europe. Graphic: Statistics. Click on the image to see details.

Surname (Corresponding Reuters, AFP)