President Sauli Niinistö on Tuesday held Russia responsible for painting an enemy image of Finland and emphasised to be prepared for all kinds of other dirty tricks.
Speaking at the Annual Meeting of Heads of Finnish Missions abroad held in Helsinki, he also focused on the ongoing Russia´s invasion of Ukraine, ongoing BRICS summit in South Africa, threat of terrorism in Sweden and Black Sea Grain Initiative.
“Russia is busy painting an enemy image of us. This primarily derives from Russia’s internal needs, but it is not without external impacts. In the process, the causes and effects are turned upside down. An aggressor is turned into a victim. Finland and the West are turned into a threat and a source of danger. Such is the twisted nature of information warfare,” said the President.
He underscored the need for be prepared for all kinds of other dirty tricks pointing out that many kinds of cyber and hybrid operations have become commonplace.
“The growing pressure of illegal immigration is again visible on the borders of Poland and Latvia. The news from Sweden also alert us to wake upto the threat of terrorism,” Niinistö added.
“We are not immune to this kind of measures either. A time like this calls for enhanced action and vigilance from us. Not only in relation to Russia, but also in a larger scale. We must now invest in security in every sector and fill in any gaps we have in both capabilities and legislation,” said the President.
Niinistö also termed the ongoing BRICS summit in South Africa as an important event of this week as a counterforce to the West is being searched for and built.
“And such an endeavour is not without attraction. There are many countries that would like to join the BRICS group,” he said.
He also said it seems clear that the BRICS group is not monolithic and it consists of countries coming from very differing starting points.
“Evidently, the members of the group themselves understand that objecting to something alone does not serve as sufficient incentive for action. We should be closely following what kind of new initiatives the BRICS countries start bringing up. The West will not probably like all of them,” said the President.
Niinistö also said that Putin´s physical absence in the meeting proved the power of the International Criminal Court .
“However, one is physically absent from the group. Russian President Putin attends the meeting remotely. This is proof of the power of the International Criminal Court,” he said.
He accused Russia of escalating its warfare in Ukraine for months and terminating the its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative resulting rise in grain prices across the globe.
“It (Russia) has been bombing civilian infrastructure and cities, annexing new areas and using hunger and cold as weapons. By terminating its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia has more and more clearly taken the global food market and the countless people seriously affected by the rise in grain prices its hostage,” said Niinistö .
He, however, pointed out the initiatives of recently held peace talk in Saudi Arabia, although according to him, the just and lasting peace Ukraine deserves is probably still far away, two of its outlines are already taking shape.
“The first one is the importance of the principles of the UN Charter. This was confirmed at the meeting of National Security Advisors held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a few weeks ago. It was particularly significant that China participated in the meeting,” he said, adding that another growing and shared global concern are the repercussions of the war as the war is fought in Ukraine, but it is casting its shadow over the whole world.
He said that the two factors are now bringing the international community together to discuss peace and the fact that the situation is discussed increases understanding in itself.
“An even more important matter is that the discussions revealed that the participants share a broad mutual understanding of the basic principles. This is also a factor that Russia must take into account,” he added.
He also emphasised to the unity among the Nordic countries despite joining the military alliance NATO.
“Even though a lot of things have changed, a lot also remains unchanged. Finland is and will remain a stable and predictable Nordic country. For us, the Nordic countries are not only a political reference group but Nordicness is also a fundamental part of our identity and value base. It is a group of like-minded countries that is capable of acting together and sharing burdens,” he said.
Expecting the Swedish NATO membership soon he said that after that the thirty-one states NATO will covers almost the whole Baltic Sea area.
- Sauli Niinistö