Russian President Putin tells Finland that swapping neutrality for NATO is a mistake
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart Saulie Niinisto on Saturday that abandoning neutrality and joining NATO would be a mistake that could damage ties between their two countries, the Kremlin said.
The two countries said their presidents spoke on the phone two days after Finland announced their intention to join the Western Alliance. Moscow described it as a security threat to which it would need to respond, but did not specify how.
Niinisto’s office said he told Putin how “Russian demands aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO at the end of 2021 and the massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have changed the security environment of Finland.” “.
He said Finland wanted to handle relations with its Russian neighbor “in a fair and professional manner”.
The Kremlin said: “Vladimir Putin insisted that it would be a mistake to abandon the traditional policy of military neutrality, as there is no threat to Finland’s security. Such a change in the country’s foreign policy would negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations.” could have an impact.”
Moscow described the call as a “clear exchange of views”, usually a diplomatic euphemism for a difficult conversation.
Niinisto said: “The conversation was direct and straightforward and it was conducted without any provocation. Avoidance of tension was deemed necessary.”
Sweden is expected to make a similar move following Finland’s membership bid, should Putin face off exactly what he said he wanted to avoid when he launched his invasion of Ukraine on 24 February: Another extension of NATO to the borders of Russia.
(Additional reporting by AC Lehto; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by David Clarke)
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