Niinistö: Finland’s relations with Russia are no different than other Nordic nations

The two leaders were joined by leaders from Norway, Sweden and Iceland at the Arctic discussion forum.

President Sauli Niinistö (L) meets Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in St. Petersburgh, 9th April 2019 / Credit: Katri Makkonen, Office of the President

President Sauli Niinistö held an hour-long bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

The meeting was held in the sidelines of the International Arctic Forum, an event supposed to promote cooperation and sustainable development in the Arctic region.

In their private meeting, the two leaders discussed Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe; Norwegian allegations that Russia jammed GPS signals in parts of northern Finland last year during a military exercise; and sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine and illegally annexed Crimea five years ago.

Niinistö told journalists afterwards that relations between the two countries are no different than those of other Nordic nations. He said that while he has met several times with Putin, Norwegian and Swedish leaders had not due to the situation in Ukraine, but that was now changing.

“Importantly, for the first time in a long time, the prime ministers of Sweden and Norway are visiting here” Niinistö said. The President of Iceland is also attending the same Arctic forum.

The two leaders – who called each other by their first names during the panel discussions on stage in St. Petersburg – also attended a formal dinner together on Tuesday evening.