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Ukrainian President: Finland and Ukraine both face external threat

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Finland and Ukraine share a consensus based on common experiences, such as being faced with an external threat. Poroshenko held talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on the Ukraine conflict and the implementation of the Minsk Agreement between opposing sides in the violence, as well as security in the Baltic Sea region.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Visiting President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Finland understands Ukraine very well.

"Finland understands the Ukraine against which Russia is waging hybrid warfare," Poroshenko said during a press conference at President Niinistö’s official residence on Tuesday.

Poroshenko said that the understanding was based on the shared experience of facing an external threat.

The Ukrainian head of state used the occasion to warn Finland of the political risks of the Baltic area Nordstream II gas pipeline project. The pipeline will transport natural gas from Russia to Germany and will significantly reduce gas transshipment through Ukraine.

During the press conference, Poroshenko said that Ukraine and Finland had agreed to coordinate their efforts to combat cyber threats.

Niinistö stressed Finnish support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence and condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Confidence in the US

According to Poroshenko Donald Trump’s presidency will not affect US support for Ukraine one way or another.

"We have received support from both sides," he added.

He noted that Ukraine would be satisfied to see an end to economic sanctions against Russia – if the Minsk agreement is implemented.

"Everything depends on Russia," Poroshenko added.

President Niinistö said that he does not believe that the US would begin changing its current policy and loosen sanctions. He noted that in any case, the US has imposed its own sanctions and the EU had independently enforced sanctions on Russia.

"As an EU member Finland respects the EU decisions that we have also been involved in making," Niinistö stressed.

Conflict continues in Ukraine

Aimed at restoring peace to Ukraine, the Minsk agreement has proven to be largely ineffective and a ceasefire between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukrainian government has not held.

The United Nations estimates that between 6,000 and 7,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict. Altogether the violence has claimed nearly 9,800 lives and injured 23,000 people.

The Ukrainian President arrived in Helsinki via Estonia, where he met on Monday with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid.