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Thursday's papers: Russia invades Ukraine, arms exports debate, rich minister

Finnish media reports that Russia launched a military action against Ukraine on Thursday morning.

Ukrainian soldiers stand guard outside the building after the reported shelling of a kindergarden in the settlement of Stanytsia Luhanska, Ukraine, on February 17, 2022. Image: Aris Messinis / AFP

All of Finland's newspapers, national and regional, carry reports on Thursday morning of Russia's escalated military action in Ukraine.

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (HS), Finland's largest circulating daily, writes in an article updated minute-by-minute (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Ukraine is being attacked from the north and south by Russian forces.

HS have sent reporter Vera Siren and photographer Kalle Koponen to the southeastern city of Mariupol to follow the developing situation.

The duo say that Mariupol seems relatively peaceful for now, despite reports that Russian troops have entered the city.

Koponen did however report seeing the receptionist check out all guests at the hotel where the HS employees are staying "with trembling fingers".

Another local, truck driver Vladimir Artushenko, told the reporters he had heard explosions coming from Berdyansk, a city located west of Mariupol.

6 out of 10 would re-examine Ukraine arms exports question

Tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)(IL) asked on Thursday whether Finland's Parliamentary parties would support exporting weapons to Ukraine, a question that has become a key bone of contention this week.

Ukraine has asked Finland for material support in its efforts to defend itself against Russian aggression, but Finnish lawmakers are divided on the issue.

According to the paper, Prime Minister Sanna Marin's social democrats and education minister's Li Andersonn's Left Alliance answered with a "stark no".

The Greens, Centre Party and Swedish Party of Finland (RKP) proposed the issue should be reconsidered, suggesting that possibly an exception to the 'no weapons exports to countries at war'-rule be made .

The National Coalition Party, Christian Democrats and Movement Now would also support a reconsideration, IL reports, while the Finns Party remains undecided on the matter.

Minister cashed in 400K from Meta deal

Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (SDP) has become somewhat of a shareholder mogul, something that is quite unusual for a left-leaning party official, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) (IS) writes.

Ministers' earnings will go under the microscope with the publication of their declarations of interest on Thursday. Harakka's declaration has so far indicated that the communications minister's figures are hovering around the hundreds of thousands, something he largely attributes to his deal with social media giant Facebook.

Although the full deal has not been disclosed, it is estimated that by selling the domain Harakka's wealth grew by a staggering 400,000 euros. Harakka had reserved the domain for himself in 2012, when he was planning on starting his own company. Little did he know the four letters would pay off heftily, when Facebook decided to change its company name to Meta.

The communications minister told IS that while he acknowledges that he is doing well for himself at the moment, his earlier life has been far from financially comfortable.

"There were times when I was faced with mounting debts and foreclosure for longer periods. Plastic cards had to be cut with scissors," Harakka told the paper.