Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Finland seeks to reassure Russia about NATO bid



Finland seeks to reassure Russia about NATO bid

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto at an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on Saturday. AFP

Finland seeks to reassure Russia about NATO bid

Finland on Saturday sought to allay Moscow’s fears about its bid to join NATO, as fierce fighting raged in Ukraine’s east, slowing a Russian advance.

Wives and parents of Ukrainian fighters trapped in the bowels of a besieged steel plant in the country’s south meanwhile made a desperate appeal to China to help secure their release.

And the wealthy countries of the G7 vowed to further turn the screw on the Kremlin with fresh sanctions, pledging never to recognise the borders it is attempting to redraw through destructive force.

One of Europe’s fiercest conflicts since World War II has seen more than six million people flee for their lives, and according to Kyiv has caused an estimated $90 billion in damage to civilian infrastructure.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin urged his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to move immediately to implement a ceasefire, in their first talks since before the conflict began on February 24.

But one senior Ukrainian general predicted a turning point in the months ahead, and said the fighting could be over by the end of the year.

Finland and Sweden are poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment to join NATO as a defence against feared further aggression from Russia.

Moscow has warned Finland, with whom it shares a 1,300km border, that it would take “reciprocal steps”.

Finland’s grid operator said Russia halted electricity supplies overnight, though Finnish officials said power supplied by Sweden had made up for the losses.

Ahead of talks with NATO members in Berlin, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was “confident that in the end we will find a solution and Finland [and] Sweden will become members of NATO”.

Earlier, in a phone call initiated by Helsinki, President Sauli Niinisto had a “direct and straightforward” conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Avoiding tensions was considered important,” Niinisto’s office said.

Putin, however, told him that Finland joining NATO would be a “mistake”, insisting that Russia posed “no threat to Finland’s security”, the Kremlin said.

Finland’s bid to join NATO is expected to be announced over the weekend.

Finland and Sweden will first have to win over NATO member Turkey on the sidelines of the informal gathering of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Berlin.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said he opposed their membership bids and accused both countries of harbouring “terrorist organisations”.

Both Nordic countries have sizable Kurdish populations. Ankara has regularly accused Stockholm in particular of harbouring members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been designated a terrorist organisation in the UK, EU and the US.

It has also been angered by Sweden’s assertion that the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917 constituted genocide.

But Turkey on Saturday expressed readiness at least to discuss Finnish and Swedish membership.

“A big majority of the Turkish people are against the membership of those countries who are supporting PKK terrorist organisation,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said upon arrival for the Berlin talks.

He added, however, that “these are the issues that we need to talk, of course, with our NATO allies as well as these countries.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a