Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Nordic nation will decide “to seek NATO membership in the next few days,” Niinistö’s office said in a statement.
During the Finnish-initiated call, “President Niinistö told President Putin how Russian demands in late 2021 aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have fundamentally changed Finland’s security environment.” , the statement said .
“The conversation was direct and direct and conducted without hassle. It was considered important to avoid tensions,” Niinistö is quoted as saying in the statement.
Niinistö noted that he had already told Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that “every independent nation maximizes its security” and that “this is happening now,” the statement said.
By joining NATO, Finland “strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibilities” as “it doesn’t stay away from anyone,” the statement said. In the future, Finland “wants to properly and professionally deal with the practical issues arising from Russia’s neighborhood,” it adds.
Niinistö “reiterated his deep concern at the human suffering caused by the war Russia is waging in Ukraine” and “stressed the need for peace”. He “also delivered the messages on securing the evacuation of civilians conveyed by (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier in the same week,” the statement said.
What the Kremlin says: Niinistö and Putin had a “frank exchange of views” during a phone call on Saturday related to the Finnish leadership’s announced intention to apply for NATO membership, the Kremlin said in a statement.
“Vladimir Putin stressed that it would be a mistake to abandon the traditional policy of military neutrality as there are no threats to Finland’s security,” the statement said.
“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy may adversely affect Russian-Finnish relations, which have been built for many years in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership cooperation and have been mutually beneficial,” he added.
The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
“Vladimir Putin in particular shared his assessment of the status of the negotiation process between Russian and Ukrainian representatives, which was actually suspended by Kyiv, who show no interest in a serious and constructive dialogue,” the statement said.