Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) held a joint press conference in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Wednesday, 21 August 2019. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday for what has become a regular working visit to the Finnish capital.

Putin and President Sauli Niinistö revealed in a news conference that they talked for roughly an hour in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, touching on a wide variety of international issues such as the situation in Ukraine and efforts to combat black carbon in the Arctic.

“We’ve of course talked about a couple of international issues. I hope that our relations with European countries return to a fully fledged basis and that the new European leadership wants to seek a permanent, constructive solution to our relations,” commented Putin.

“We talked about both human rights and the economy. The trade volume between our countries is growing, and big projects are underway,” he added.

Putin stated in the press conference that he is grateful for the “pragmatic” approach taken by Finland to Nord Stream 2, a natural gas pipeline set to link Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. The Finnish portion of the pipeline, he also revealed, has already been completed.

Niinistö, in turn, expressed his satisfaction that Russia is, once again, a contributing member of the Council of Europe. “This is the solution that was advocated also by Finland,” he revealed.

He also voiced his concern about the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), an arms control treaty ratified between the United States and Soviet Union in 1988.

“I think [the collapse] is problematic especially for Europe,” he estimated. “That’s why it’d be extremely important that new negotiations on arms control are initiated and agreements are reached.”

Katri Pynnöniemi, a professor of Russian security policy at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish National Defence University, pointed out to Helsingin Sanomat that Niinistö made no attempt to challenge the interpretations of Putin.

“Putin was allowed to send all his most important messages. And the gist of the messages is that same that has been at the heart of Russian strategic communication for a long time: the United States is making decisions above Europe without considering the interests of its allies,” she said to the newspaper.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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