Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö told reporters that the risk of the use of nuclear arms in the conflict should be taken seriously.
President Sauli Niinistö told a gathering of journalists on Thursday that there is no solution in sight to the war in Ukraine. Niinistö’s assessment is that driving Russian troops out of Ukraine will be a demanding challenge.
“Russia has dug deep into defensive positions. The fighting will continue,” he said.
He also commented on a recent incident in which parts of a Russian drone hit Romanian territory.
“This shows that there is a balance of terror all the time, happening by chance or on purpose,” said Niinistö.
The president’s meeting on Thursday with members of the Finnish Association of Political Journalists began with introductory remarks by Niinistö, followed by a question-and-answer session.
Yle asked Niinistö whether Finland accepts Ukraine carrying out strikes on Russian territory and how it would be viewed if weapons provided by Finland are used in such attacks.
Niinistö answered that the arms given to Ukraine by Finland have been supplied for defensive purposes and, as far as he understands, this is how the weapons have been used.
According to the president, the war in Ukraine is constantly being monitored for the possibility of an escalation in the conflict. The risk of the use nuclear weapons is also being taken seriously.
“If atomic weapons are used, that’s the end,” he said.
President Niinistö told his listeners that he was not referring to any concrete threat. However, he pointed out that the use of nuclear weapons could be the end of the world, and thinks that that notion must be kept in the back of one’s mind.
As he has previously done, Niinistö once again pointed to the responsibility of European countries to take care of their own defense.
The president also took up the new defense cooperation agreement (DCA) that Finland and the United States are currently negotiating.
“The DCA will lead to the fact that there will be at least some kind of American presence in Finland,” he stated.
When asked, President Niinistö also gave an assessment of the the progress and schedule of Sweden’s Nato membership.
“It is difficult to cancel the Vilnius pledges,” Niinistö pointed out.
This was a reference to a promise by Turkey at the summer Nato summit in Vilnius to accept Sweden’s membership.
Niinistö was unable to say whether Turkey’s negotiations on buying F-16 fighter jets from the US are tied to the approval of Sweden’s Nato membership.
Stand against intolerance
Niinistö also commented on Koran burnings in neighbouring Sweden, pondering how a society that cherishes justice and tolerance can protect itself if it becomes the target of unjust actions.
In his comments, the president indicated his belief that even tolerant people have to take a tough stand against intolerance.
The president was clear that the burning of Korans in Sweden has been a provocation. And, he stated that these events are sure to arouse more discussion about averting unjust attacks.