Timo Soini: North Korea, Baltic Security & Russia

Finland's Foreign Minister wants China to apply economic pressure on North Korea to diffuse current nuclear tensions.

Foreign Minister from the UK, Nordic and Baltic countries meet in London / Credit @borisjohnson Twitter

Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini says that while the North Korea nuclear crisis is escalating, he thinks there’s still a chance for China to use its economic influence over the Pyong Yang government to calm the situation.

“The situation is very worrying, even though the escalation of war is not in sight” Soini told STT Finnish News Agency, after meeting with other Nordic and Baltic Foreign Ministers and their British counterpart in London on Monday.

“The situation is bad in that it also affects the security in the wider region in general” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said fresh sanctions against North Korea would be “useless”, but Soini thinks the Russians have a vested interest in diffusing current hostilities.

“Russia has a 60 kilometre border with North Korea, and I believe the big powers [Russia and China] have a great interest in keeping the current status unchanged. Any crisis would be on their borders straight away” Soini said.

According to Soini, small countries like Finland should mostly put pressure on superpowers to keep negotiating with North Korea.

“A military solution would not solve anything in the short term, and only bring new problems to the table” he said.

The Nordic, Baltic and UK Foreign Ministers also discussed the situation in the Baltic Sea at their London meeting; and the upcoming large Zapad 2017 military exercise that Russia is conducting later this month.

Soini was pleased that British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson had signaled that Britain remains committed to supporting countries in the region, both through the EU’s common foreign and security policy framework, but also through NATO membership – despite the upcoming Brexit split.