Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Scandinavian nation will decide “to seek NATO membership in the coming days,” Niinistö’s office said in a statement.
During the phone call initiated by Finland, “President Niinistö told President Putin how fundamentally Russia’s demands by the end of 2021, aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, have changed Finland’s security environment. “, read the statement. †
“The conversation was direct and uncomplicated and was conducted without annoyance. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” Niinistö said in the statement.
Niinistö noted that he had already told Putin during their first meeting in 2012, “that every independent nation maximizes its security” and that “this is also happening now,” the statement said.
By joining NATO, Finland “strengthens its own security and takes responsibility” as “it is not taken away from anyone else,” the statement said. In the future, Finland wants to “take care of the practical questions arising from being a neighbor of Russia in a correct and professional way,” it adds.
Niinistö “reiterated his deep concern about the human suffering caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine” and “emphasized the need for peace.” He also brought “the reports of securing the evacuation of civilians delivered earlier in the same week by (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,” the statement said.
What the Kremlin says: Niinistö and Putin had “a frank exchange of views” during a phone call on Saturday over the announced intention of Finland’s leaders to apply for NATO membership, the Kremlin said in a statement.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake as there are no threats to Finland’s security,” the statement said.
“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which have been built over years in the spirit of good neighborly relations and cooperation between partners, and which have been mutually beneficial,” it added. to.
The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
“Vladimir Putin, in particular, shared his assessment of the state of the negotiation process between Russian and Ukrainian representatives, which was effectively suspended by Kiev, which shows no interest in serious and constructive dialogue,” the statement said.