Russian and Finnish presidents discuss MH17, ceasefire hopes

Presidents Niinistö and Putin traded views on the prospects for a credible probe of last week's downing of a passenger jet over Eastern Ukraine and bringing about an armistice on the ground.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to discuss the Ukrainian crisis. The call came at Finland’s initiative.

According to a statement released by his office on Wednesday evening, Niinistö urged Putin to ensure that Russia is fully cooperating to peacefully resolve the crisis and to probe last Thursday’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Niinistö told Putin that the plane’s fate must be determined by an impartial, independent international investigation, and that blocking or endangering this would be reprehensible.

The statement quotes Putin as saying that Russia supports an impartial investigation to clarify the situation, and that he considers it important to quickly achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Niinistö pointed out to his opposite number in Moscow that the shooting down of the civilian passenger aircraft had deepened the Ukrainian crisis.

So far Finnish leaders have a taken cautious line on the Ukrainian crisis, partly out of concerns over undermining crucial trade and cooperation with neighbouring Russia.