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Niinistö, Haavisto urge diplomatic resolution to Ukraine crisis

The president and foreign minister said war could send shock waves through Europe, but that a peaceful resolution is still possible.

Presidents Niinistö and Putin at the Kremlin in October. Image: Mikhail Klimentyev / AOP

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) have expressed concern about the possible outbreak of war in Europe.

In an interview with the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published on Saturday, Niinistö said that he was "very worried" that war will break out in Ukraine if the tensions are not resolved through diplomatic means.

Niinistö has discussed the situation several times with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, most recently in a lengthy phone call in late January.

Niinistö suggested that the west may have become overly complacent.

"Like almost all Europeans, I have been happy to live in peace. We are perhaps a little too used to a safe, beautiful life," Niinistö said.

However Niinistö said he considers it unlikely that Sweden or Finland would become involved in a possible conflict.

Haavisto: War could impact Finland's energy and food supply

Foreign Minister Haavisto pointed out that a full-scale war would have significant impact throughout Europe.

The consequences of a conflict in Ukraine could be seen in Finland as well, he told Yle on Saturday evening. For example, there could be problems with access to energy and food. In addition, trade with Ukraine and Russia would become more difficult, along with personal contacts, he said.

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Foreign ministers Haavisto and Lavrov at a press conference in Norway last October. Image: Venäjän Ulkoministeriö / AOP

Haavisto noted that the preparations for a military operation and the assembly of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border make the situation very flammable – but expressed the belief that the crisis could still be resolved through diplomacy.

Haavisto last met with his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov in October, when Niinistö and Putin also last held face-to-face talks.