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Finland would be ‘grateful’ if India negotiates between Russia and Ukraine, says Mika Lintilä

Source : The Hindu

Finland would be ‘grateful’ if India negotiates between Russia and Ukraine, says Mika Lintilä
Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland

A majority of Finland’s population wants to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), said Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland on Monday. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, Mr. Lintilä said Finland would be “grateful” if India decides to negotiate between Russia and Ukraine but maintained that President Vladimir Putin is not interested in negotiations. 

“Finland has 1,340 km long border with Russia and it [the invasion of Ukraine] has changed our security situation. It could be possible that we would try to be member of NATO this summer. Over 60% of Finland’s population is in favour of Finland joining NATO,” said Mr. Lintilä.

“No one trusts Russia any more. They promised that they would not attack Ukraine and yet after two days they launched the attack on Ukraine,” he said. The visiting Minister is the latest leading Finnish figure to come out in support of his country joining NATO. There has been a surge in public sentiment in Finland in favour of NATO since President Putin ordered the “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24.

In view of the recent statements, Russia has threatened “consequences” if Finland and Sweden join NATO. Mr. Lintilä said the warnings from Russia will not prevent Finland from joining NATO because the Finnish people want that security reorientation.

“The message from our people is that they want a major power like NATO to stand behind us because people are seeking more security. There is a war in the middle of Europe and it is unbelievable. We are shocked,” said Mr. Lintilä highlighting the reasons that have created the pro–NATO sentiment in Finland. 

Mr. Lintilä also said the crisis will affect food availability in parts of Africa and West Asia where prices are expected to shoot up further. He said Finland has reduced import of Russian energy since the beginning of the war. It used to import “significant” amount of energy before the invasion, but at present only 5% of its consumed energy comes from Russia.

It is understood that Finland is “reasonably” less dependent on Russian energy than the rest of Europe and therefore it is unlikely to be impacted negatively if drastic reduction is made in import of Russian energy.

“People are ready to pay the price of whatever it costs because everyone has seen images of dead children in Ukraine,” said Mr. Lintilä in support of Finland shifting to alternative energy sources avoiding Russian oil and gas.

Mr. Lintilä said Finland hopes for a negotiated settlement of the war as several leaders including President Macron of France are trying to bring a solution. “Every country must do what they can for peace and to end this awful war. We would be very grateful if India can help in this but the situation is very complicated.”

Mr. Lintilä is on a visit along with Under Secretary of State Petri Peltonen. On Monday, both sides signed the Indo–Finnish Virtual Network Centre on Quantum Computing which will provide a platform to the academics and the industry players to work on emerging areas like 5G.

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