PRIME MINISTER Sanna Marin (SDP) on Tuesday said she will sit down with the leaders of all parliamentary parties in an attempt to obtain as broad support as possible for building a fence on parts of the border between Finland and Russia.
Marin added during a parliamentary debate on foreign and security policy that she herself is positive about the proposal to build the fence.
The Finnish Border Guard in September stated that it believes 130–260 kilometres of the over 1,300-kilometre border should be fenced, primarily in areas near designated border-crossing points. The project would have an estimated price tag of “a few hundred million euros” and require three to four years to complete.
“If the border authority estimates that it needs this kind of a fence to control the border also in future, I think we should take that proposal seriously,” Marin was quoted saying by YLE.
The prime minister added that the effects of the fence on foreign and security policy have already been discussed by the president and ministerial committee on foreign and security policy.
Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Centre) said the Ministry of Finance is prepared to arrange funds for the project at a short notice.
The parliamentary debate reflected mounting concerns about the actions of Russia. Among recent alarming developments are the “partial” mobilisation and the annexation of four Ukrainian regions announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Finland and other western countries have condemned the unlawful annexations.
Tensions have increased also due to the explosions in Nord Stream, a natural gas pipeline connecting Germany and Russia via the Baltic Sea.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) set up the debate by estimating that Russia is likely to step up its hybrid warfare efforts against western countries in the coming months. Finnish officials, he added, have prepared for hybrid campaigns and are constantly monitoring hostile activities.
Members of the Finnish Parliament also drew attention to the importance of continuing support for Ukraine.
“Ukraine will win this war if the west maintains its strong support and sufficient resolve. Finland must take initiative in that regard,” viewed Antti Häkkänen (NCP), the chairperson of the Parliament’s Defence Committee.
Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) revealed Finland is preparing already its ninth military aid package to Ukraine. The value of its eight previous aid packages stands at around 93 million euros.
“The decisions will be made soon,” he said. “I doubt [the package] will be the last one. We have to be ready to support Ukraine for a long time.”
Finland presently ranks 24th in bilateral aid commitments and 22nd in bilateral aid commitments relative to gross domestic product to Ukraine, according to data collected between 24 January and 3 August by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Its commitments as a share of gross domestic product rise from 0.03 to 0.1 per cent by taking into account commitments made by the EU.
The share falls well short of the 0.9 per cent committed by Estonia and Latvia, the 0.6 per cent committed by Poland and the 0.4 per cent committed by Lithuania and Norway.
The Financial Times in September reported that White House officials have expressed their frustration with the slow disbursement of aid to Kyiv by the European Union. The 27-country bloc has been urged to set up a regular mechanism for disbursing the aid in order to avoid bickering over logistics in conjunction with every aid package.
Brussels had at the time released only one billion of the nine billion it had pledged to Ukraine in May. Another five billion euros was to be released by the end of September.
Similar calls have emanated also from Europe. Jeremy Shapiro, a research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), on Monday wrote that Ukraine could become a highly divisive issue between the EU and US unless Europeans “put their money where their mouth is”.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT