Following the announcement that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are to meet in Helsinki in July, The Atlantic takes a look at the history of the Finnish capital as a site of pivotal encounters between the United States and Russia.


Starting during the Cold War, Helsinki has a long history of playing host to important meetings between American and Russian presidents. The Atlantic places Trump and Putin’s upcoming summit in its historical context.

Despite not qualifying for the tournament, the World Cup has also brought some international news to Finland. The Telegraph has reported that prospective asylum seekers have bought tickets in order to attempt to cross the border from Russia to Finland.

In other news, Fortum bets on the Russian wind power market, while the same company is also responsible for an electric taxi service that allows passengers to pay by singing.

The meaning of a U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki
The Atlantic

In 1975, representatives from the United States, Soviet Union, and 33 other nations gathered in the capital of Finland to help defuse mounting tensions over nuclear weapons, human rights, and military posturing. The summit was the brainchild of Urho Kekkonen, then the president of Finland, who had successfully toed the narrow line between the East and the West. The Helsinki Final Act, the product of the summit, would prove pivotal in not only improving relations between the United States and the Soviet Union: It made a lasting impact on the architecture of the European security framework.

History has a way of repeating itself. On Thursday, the White House and the Kremlin announced Helsinki would be the host for a star-crossed summit on July 16 between U.S. President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. But unlike the 1975 summit, which brought together world leaders with clear goals about cooperation, no one knows quite what to expect this time. “It seems like this is almost the antithesis of what happened in 1975,” Hannu Himanen, a former Finnish ambassador to Moscow, told me. “Putin is trying to rearrange the security order in Europe and Trump has inserted a massive amount of instability to the continent.”

While the upcoming summit harkens back to Finland’s roots as a Cold War–era meeting point between East and West, its government is keen to show the world that, today, the country stands firmly with the West. “This is perhaps the single greatest issue for Finland in organizing this,” Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, told me. “This summit should be a way for the world to recognize how Finland has changed and that the old lines about neutrality are gone.”

Original article was published by The Atlantic on 28/06/2018 and can be found here.

Migrants buy Russia World Cup tickets in bid to claim EU asylum
The Telegraph

Prospective asylum seekers have bought World Cup tickets to get into Russia without a visa and try to cross into European Union member Finland.

The Finnish border service has said a citizen of a third country declared his intention to seek asylum at Helsinki airport on Friday.

The man admitted he had bought World Cup match tickets and applied for a Fan ID to try to reach Finland, state broadcaster YLE reported.

Required for entry to matches, the Fan ID for ticket-holders replaces the visa that is usually required to get into Russia.

A Nigerian man was detained the same day trying to enter Finland with a fake Brazilian passport, and three young Moroccans were caught on Sunday trying to cross the border through the forest north of St Petersburg. All four are seeking asylum.

The Russian publication Fontanka reported that at least 10 people had been detained trying to cross the Finnish border during the tournament.

“It was a little surprising that there were some many incidents right at the start of the World Cup,” Marko Saareks of the Finnish border service told YLE. “We assumed that there would be more nearer to the end, when countries start to be knocked out of the competition.”

Those detained for illegally crossing the Finnish border cannot be deported while their asylum application is being considered.

The Russia-Finland route is cheaper and safer than paying smugglers to cross the Mediterranean on an overcrowded boat.

Original article was published by The Telegraph on 21/06/2018 and can be found here.

Finland's Fortum bets on fledgling Russian wind power market

Finnish utility Fortum is hoping to attract financial partners for its new wind and solar projects in Russia, where it aims to capitalize on its decade-long presence in the country to expand in renewables.

This approach is similar to moves by Denmark’s Orsted, the world’s largest owner of offshore wind power sites, which also has sold off large stakes in wind farms to invest the capital in new projects.

Earlier this month, Fortum sold 54 percent of its Indian solar portfolio to UK Climate Investments and Elite Alfred Berg.

“We are considering similar possibilities in other markets to bring financial investors alongside us to invest in renewables,” Fortum’s head of solar and wind development, Joonas Rauramo, told Reuters.

It would make sense to take in such partners after the development and construction phase, he said.

“In the current interest rate environment there are large amounts of money looking for green and stable investment opportunities,” he said.

Original article was published by Reuters on 28/06/2018 and can be found here.

Finland has an electric taxi service where you pay by singing

Finland has just introduced a rather unique taxi service that we never saw coming. It's called the Singalong Shuttle and it's the world's first taxi service where you pay by busting out a tune.

Depending on your perspective this is both the best and worst thing ever.

"With Singalong Shuttle we want to show people in a joyful way how comfortable and easy it is to drive an electric car,” says Fortum’s Brand Manager Jussi Mälkiä. "The silent electric cars make it possible to enjoy singing without background noise and emissions," he continues.

As the word 'shuttle' suggests, it isn't a straight up taxi service yet. It's a rideshare service but with the gift/curse of song injected into it. At the time of writing there has been no explanation as to how the technology will work in regards to detecting singing as a form of payment.

The Singalong Shuttle has been developed by clean-energy company Fortum, which aims to provide customers with more sustainable lifestyle solutions.

The company has also been developing EV charging solutions — in fact the Fortum Charge & Drive EV charging network is the largest in the Nordics with over 2000 chargers across the area.

The Singalong Shuttle is going to have its pilot run from July 6 -8 at the Ruisrock Festival in Turku, Finland. It will take keen punters between the Aurajoki riverbank and the festival bus station between 12pm and 5pm. For those unfamiliar, it's the second oldest rock festival in the country and presumably involves alcohol. I'm sure that's going to result in some extremely interesting interpretations of melodies, notes and words.

Original article was published by Gizmodo on 28/06/2018 and can be found here.

Dan Anderson – HT

Photo: AFP / Lehtikuva / SPUTNIK