Niinistö: The extent of European unity "surprise" Russia

Niinistö: The extent of European unity "surprise" Russia

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told Yle’s A-studio’s current affairs program on Monday night that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed Europe.

"The European Union is more united than ever," Niinistö said and added that he also believes that the Russian leadership will take into account the extent of European unity.

"I’m sure it will surprise them," he said and further pointed out that the Russian president Vladimir PutinThe decision to launch a military offensive against Ukraine has sparked Europe in the same way that his 2014 attack on Crimea united the nation of Ukraine.

In an interview, Niinistö was asked why Finland’s position on arms exports to the conflict area changed based on the situation in Ukraine. The reasons are "very rudimentary"He answered.

"We saw that the people there needed them. Nothing more" Niinistö said.

He added that in his opinion, arms exports to Ukraine do not make Finland parties to the war.

Niinistö: There are no grounds for Russia’s attack on Finland

In addition to the issues discussed in Niinistö’s A-Studio interview, the president was asked if he believed Putin was using a nuclear weapon or attacking a NATO member country.

"I really don’t think he would make that kind of mistake," Niinistö said.

He also answered a question about the possibility of Russia attacking Finland in the coming months or years.

"I really don’t think it’s possible. It really doesn’t make any sense," Niinistö replied, pointing out that Putin has used "very contemptuous" rhetoric when talking about Ukraine, which has not been taken into account in his mentions of Finland.

Based on his interpretation of Russian rhetoric, Niinistö said he believed the Kremlin believed the attack on Ukraine would strengthen the country’s geopolitical position and cause internal problems for Western leaders.

He added that Russian leaders would have expected much faster progress in Ukraine than has been seen so far.

NATO alternative

Regarding Finland’s possible military membership in NATO, Niinistö said that the amount of defense membership granted by Finland depends on the situation. For example, if Russia plans a separate attack on Finland, NATO would form a "deterrent".

"If, on the other hand, we think that Russia does not plan or want to do that, we would, of course, be in a situation where this relationship in our border region, and in general, would be quite tense." he said.

The critical stage, Niinistö added, would be if Finland or Sweden, or both "explore" the opportunity to join NATO, which in itself takes time. There would also be potential for Russia "countermeasures" should Finland or Sweden start the process.

According to Niinistö, the hybrid threats caused by Russia may grow and become even more serious in the future.

According to a poll published on Yle on Monday, 53 per cent of respondents would support an application to join NATO. The result of the survey is the first time that most Finns have expressed their support for accession, which represents a historic change in Finns’ attitudes towards NATO membership.

"It is easy to feel that we are fully protected with NATO," Niinistö said, but added that the consequences of accession must also be taken into account.

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Source: The Nordic Page

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