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Niinistö meets with US Senators in Helsinki on Monday

Monday will be a busy day for Finnish leaders as Parliament debates the Nato application and the president meets with top US politicians.

Mitch McConnell has led Republicans in the US Senate since 2007. Image: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

President Sauli Niinistö will meet US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and three other Republican Senators in Helsinki on Monday. The others are John Barrasso from Wyoming, Susan Collins from Maine and John Cornyn from Texas.

According to a statement from Niinistö's office on Sunday afternoon, he and the Senators are to discuss issues including "Finland’s security policy solutions, US support for Finland’s Nato membership as well as Russian warfare in Ukraine".

The meeting will take place as the Finnish Parliament considers the report on Finland’s accession to Nato (siirryt toiseen palveluun), which was approved on Sunday by Niinistö and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.

The lawmakers' visit to Finland is hosted by US Ambassador to Finland Douglas Hickey, who took over the post in early April. As usual for the US Embassy in Helsinki, he was a political appointee, a business executive and former Democratic fundraiser chosen by President Joe Biden.

US offers support during transition period

Biden and Niinistö held a quickly arranged meeting at the White House in March, and they spoke again on Friday in a three-way call with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

At a press conference on Sunday confirming Finland's Nato application, Niinistö was asked whether the US had promised security guarantees to support Finland from possible Russian hybrid measures during the months-long Nato application process.

Niinistö said that Washington has promised support over recent months, but that Biden had explained that it could not offer binding security guarantees without a separate Senate decision, which would be nearly unprecedented.

On Friday US military aircraft flew over Finland while US troops joined military exercises near Kouvola.

On Saturday, McConnell and the three other GOP senators made a surprise visit to Ukraine, where they met with President Volodymyr Zelensky. In 2020, McConnell led Republicans in acquitting President Donald Trump after he was impeached for withholding approved military aid in an effort to extort Zelensky for his own political gain.

The talks in Kyiv on Saturday followed visits by other American officials including Democratic Senate Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.