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Spiegel Intl: Interview with Finnish President Niinistö on Putin and the Ukraine Conflict (1 Viewer)

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For those who might be interested in a slightly different take on the situation between Ukraine and Russia

Spiegel Intl: Interview with Finnish President Niinistö on Putin and the Ukraine Conflict

Few world leaders know Vladimir Putin better than Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. In an interview, he tells DER SPIEGEL that the Russians are willing to pay a high price for things that are important to them.

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. President, you first met Vladimir Putin in person almost 10 years ago. What was your impression of him?
Niinistö: It was in June 2012 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Putin hosted a dinner, and after that, we drove to Karelia, to a village with summer cottages, and played ice hockey. At some point, he asked me: Why is Finland so enthusiastic about becoming a NATO member?

DER SPIEGEL: What was your answer?
Niinistö: That our government at that time, while it didn't rule out NATO membership in its platforms, was not initiating preparations for accession during its term in office. I told him that Finland wants to deepen relations with its neighbors in Sweden and Norway, as well as with the United States and the countries of the European Union and to enhance its partnership with NATO, and that I am an advocate for strengthening European defense. He asked me why. I said because every independent nation strives to maximize its security. That was the end of the discussion.

DER SPIEGEL: Can the man you met back then be compared with today’s Putin?
Niinistö: I would not say I have noticed any major change. Just one thing, perhaps: He sounds more decisive.
 

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