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Niinistö: Russia Won’t Meddle in Finnish Presidential Elections


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Russia will not try to influence the outcome of next year’s presidential election, according to Finland’s current President Sauli Niinistö.

“I wouldn’t say that they would try to influence our elections. The Russians would have difficulty finding a favoured candidate,” he said.

Niinistö made the remarks during his speech to an annual gathering of Finnish diplomats and foreign policy leaders in Helsinki on Tuesday. This year marks Niinistö’s last appearance as Finnish president at the prestigious foreign policy event.

The outgoing president however noted that Russia has been building an image of Finland as an enemy state in recent months, amid widespread sharing of misinformation about Finland and other western nations.

“The needs are primarily internal to Russia, but the effects are also external. In this type of communication, causes and consequences are turned on their head. The perpetrator is portrayed as a victim. The threat and danger are coming from Finland and the West,” Niinistö stated, adding this was emblematic of the “twisted nature” of misinformation warfare.

While Finland can do little to stop the spread of Russian misinformation, Niinistö advised the nation to be prepared for any eventuality, noting that events can take unexpected turns.

“We are living in a time of growing and accelerating change,” he said. “It feels like history is on fast-forward.”

Finland and the West

While the situation across Finland’s eastern border has become more challenging and unpredictable, Niinistö also noted during his speech the deepening of alliances with the west.

In particular, he noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has strengthened the friendship and cooperation between the Nordic countries, noting that the nations share a “fundamental identity and value base”.

“It is a group of like-minded countries capable of joint action and sharing burdens. We will protect each other if necessary,” he said.

Sauli Niinistö puhuu suurlähettiläskokouksessa.
Finland’s President thanked the gathering of diplomats and foreign policy experts for their work. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

In addition, he noted the importance of Finland joining Nato as well as the strengthening of relations with the US.

“Our relationship with the United States is now stronger than ever and it will continue to strengthen with the bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement,” Niinistö said.

The president also thanked the ambassadors and their embassy staff for carrying out their work in “increasingly difficult conditions”, noting especially the missions in Ukraine and Russia.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen (NCP) spoke at the three-day annual heads of mission meeting in Helsinki on Monday, telling the gathering that “Russia has ruined its relationship with Finland”.

Source: Yle


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