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Finland opposes new sanctions against Russia

At an EU summit in Brussels Prime Minister Stubb has spoken out against suspending the EU’s cross-border programme with Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis. The project encourages closer trade and education ties between Finland and its eastern neighbour.

Alexander Stubb. Image: Yle

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has spoken out against suspending the EU’s cross-border programme with Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.

European leaders met in Brussels for a summit on Wednesday, at which further economic sanctions against Russia were discussed. One possible measure is the suspension of a project which encourages closer ties between Finland and Russia.

Under the seven-year cross-border programme, the EU Finland is to receive around 200 million euros of EU funding over seven years under the EU’s cross-border programme, which has so far been used to develop links between Russian and Finnish universities, and improve border-crossing points, to encourage trade and tourism between the two countries.

"Over the past few days I've worked round the clock to ensure that we can avoid the kind of sanctions that would target the border co-operation between Finland and Russia and between Russia and other countries in the EU," said Stubb, adding that a week of intense telephone diplomacy had helped him to find allies on this issue when one week ago Finland had none.

"At this stage I cannot yet promise that border co-operation will not be suspended, but I'm fairly hopeful that we can find a smart solution to this," said Stubb.

Responding to media reports by MTV3 that the sanctions could be targeted at the cross-border programme, Prime Minister Stubb cautioned against speculation.

”It seems the conversation in the media has gone into overdrive about the possible sanctions, but what we need is some restraint,” Stubb wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

19:20 16 July: This story was updated with quotes from Alexander Stubb.