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FM Haavisto: Russia's war in Ukraine could "last years"

The Foreign Minister of Finland spoke ahead of Helsinki's annual three-day meeting of ambassadors and foreign policy experts.

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green). Image: Mauri Ratilainen / EPA
Yle News

Russia's war on Ukraine could potentially last years, according to Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green), adding that neither side currently has the means to end the conflict.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Monday morning ahead of a three-day meeting of Finland's ambassadors in Helsinki, Haavisto further noted that although an escalation of the war is unlikely, it cannot be entirely ruled out.

"As the war drags on, tensions and the risk of misunderstandings increase. For example, loose talk about the use of nuclear weapons or chemical weapons. The use of weapons of mass destruction would inevitably lead to a new situation in Europe," Haavisto said.

The annual meeting — held this year from 22 to 24 August — brings together the heads of Finland’s missions abroad as well as foreign policy leaders, and takes place against the backdrop of Finland’s historic decision to join the Nato alliance.

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) are also scheduled to address the summit.

In his speech, Haavisto said that the top priority for Finland's leadership over the coming autumn is to complete the Nato accession process. So far, 23 of the alliance's 30 member countries have ratified Finland's application, which Haavisto noted had progressed very quickly.

He also told reporters that Finland's decision to apply to Nato was hastened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as it demonstrated what the Kremlin was willing to do to a neighbouring country.

In addition, Haavisto said that Sweden's decision to apply to join Nato was influenced by Finland's move — further adding that it was a "great advantage" the two Nordic neighbours were moving together towards Nato membership.

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