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Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has told Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a long border with…
Finland’s president tells Vladimir Putin: We will apply to join Nato
Mr Putin told his Finnish counterpart that ditching neutrality and joining Nato would be a ‘mistake’
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Putin warns Finland Nato membership would harm relations

By By Jari Tanner, Associated Press
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his Finnish counterpart relations between the two neighbours could be “negatively affected” if Finland follows through with plans to apply for Nato membership.

The Kremlin’s press service said in a statement that Mr Putin told Sauli Niinisto that Finland’s abandonment “of its traditional policy of military neutrality would be an error since there are no threats to Finland’s security”.

“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations, which had been built in the spirit of good neighbourliness and partnership for many years, and were mutually beneficial,” the statement added.

The response came after Mr Niinisto told Mr Putin in a phone conversation that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that has a complex history with its huge eastern neighbour “will decide to apply for Nato membership in the coming days”.

Mr Niinisto’s office said in a statement that the Finnish head of state told Mr Putin how starkly Finland’s security environment had changed after Moscow’s February 24 invasion on Ukraine, and pointed to Russia’s demands on Finland refraining from seeking membership to the 30 member-state Western military alliance.

“The discussion (with Putin) was straightforward and unambiguous and was held without exaggeration. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” said Mr Niinisto, Finland’s president since 2012 and one of a handful of western leaders who has been in regular dialogue with Mr Putin over the past decade.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto (Frank Augstein, Pool/AP)

Mr Niinisto pointed out that he had already told Mr Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that “each independent nation would maximise its own security”.

“That is still the case. By joining Nato, Finland will strengthen its own security and assume its responsibilities. It is not something away from anybody,” Mr Niinisto said.

Mr Niinisto stressed that Finland, despite its likely future membership in Nato, wants to continue to deal with Russia bilaterally in “practical issues generated by the border neighbourhood” and hopes to engage with Moscow “in a professional manner”.

According to the Kremlin statement, the two leaders also discussed Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and the possibility of achieving a political solution to the situation.

Mr Putin said negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv had been suspended due to Ukraine’s “lack of interest in a serious and constructive dialogue”.

The phone call was conducted on Finland’s initiative, Mr Niinisto’s office said.

(PA Graphics)

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, the longest by any European Union member.

Mr Niinisto and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday jointly endorsed Finland’s Nato bid and recommended that the country “must apply for Nato membership without delay” to guarantee the nation’s security amid Russia’s military manoeuvres in Ukraine and Europe’s changed geopolitical and security landscape.

A formal announcement from Mr Niinisto and Ms Marin of Finland’s intention to apply for Nato membership is expected on Sunday.

Ms Marin’s governing Social Democratic Party approved the membership bid on Saturday, paving way for a parliamentary vote next week to endorse the move.

It is expected to pass with overwhelming support. A formal membership application would then be submitted to Nato headquarters in Brussels.

Neighbouring Sweden is set to decide on its Nato stance on Sunday in a meeting of the governing Social Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

US President Joe Biden held a joint call on Friday with both Mr Niinisto and Ms Andersson where, according to a White House statement, he “underscored his support for Nato’s Open Door policy and for the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their own future, foreign policy and security arrangements”.

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Dive Deeper:
Vladimir Putin warns Finland joining NATO is a 'mistake' and will be 'security threat'
The two countries said their presidents spoke by phone two days after Finland declared its intention to join NATO with…
Vladimir Putin warns Finland that swapping neutrality for NATO is a mistake
Russia's President tells his Finnish counterpart that ditching neutrality and joining NATO would be a mistake that could damage relations…
Finland confirms NATO alliance application despite Vladimir Putin's grave warning
President Sauli Niinisto confirmed his country would submit an application for NATO as a result of security concerns following Vladimir…
Sweden joining Finland in requesting NATO membership in major blow to Vladimir Putin
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed earlier his country will apply for the military alliance in a historic policy shift prompted…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Finland’s president tells Putin: We will apply to join Nato
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto has told Vladimir Putin that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country that shares a long border with…
Finland’s president tells Vladimir Putin: We will apply to join Nato
Mr Putin told his Finnish counterpart that ditching neutrality and joining Nato would be a ‘mistake’
Get all your news in one place