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Niinistö: Russian Propaganda Against Finland Increasing


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The pressure Russia is exerting on Finland is increasing, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Niinistö said on Swedish radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio on Sunday.

“We are now possibly starting to see all kinds of activity. Not military operations, but other kinds of operations. Our consulate in St Petersburg has been closed this autumn. Some people, like the Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, have recently hardened their language and accused us of all sorts of things. There is constantly more propaganda against Finland from the Russian side, Sauli Niinistö said in the radio programme.

Russia was expected to increase its hostility already after Finland’s Nato application. Niinistö said he believes that Russia did not have time to react then, but that it is only reacting now.

“Fortunately, Finland is prepared for this. We have gone through these risks,” Niinistö said.

Putin’s speech woke Niinistö up

President Sauli Niinistö told the radio programme that he started thinking about Finland’s membership of Nato when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a threatening speech in December 2021.

“Already after Putin’s speech, in which he wanted to see Russia’s sphere of interest and insisted that Nato would not expand eastwards, I realised that we had to come up with something new for Finland’s security policy. And finding something new that was not Nato was very difficult,” Niinistö explained.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden proposed deepening defence cooperation between Sweden and Finland as an alternative to Nato membership. Niinistö said he was sceptical about the proposal for several reasons.

“In the past, similar ideas had been floated in Finland without Sweden being so interested. Personally, I had not pushed the idea either, partly because of Sweden’s lack of interest and partly because I thought bilateral cooperation was not enough. So it was my idea at the beginning of 2022 that this kind of defence cooperation was not enough,” said Niinistö.

Niinistö also described on the radio how, before the war, Putin gradually became more and more agitated when talking about Ukraine and the West.

“It was frustration, but it gradually became, I think, more than frustration, more anger or something. There was a change in him. He was clearly much more frustrated, not only with Ukraine, but also with the situation in the West,” Niinistö said.

Source: Yle


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