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Sat, 02 Jul, 2016 12:10:05 AM
Niinistö- Putin meet in Kultaranta
FTimes-Xinhua-STT Report, July 2

Russian President Vladimir Putin said here on Friday that Russia would respect Finland's choice whether to join NATO, but he painted a dire picture for Finland if it would be a NATO member.

Putin described the losses Finland would suffer as a NATO country. He said that NATO would be keen on fighting against Russia "to the last Finnish soldier alive".

He warned that Finnish defence forces would no longer be independent but be part of NATO infrastructure that would reach the Russian borders.

The Russian President made the remarks at a joint press conference after holding talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö. He arrived at the Finnish president's summer residence Kultaranta in Naantali on Friday afternoon for a one-day working visit.

On his part, Niinistö said small steps could be taken to enhance confidence, referring to the situation in Ukraine and the tension in the Baltic Sea area.

Niinistö tied the possible dismantling of sanctions against Russia to the progress in peace talks on Ukraine crisis.

Putin claimed that Russia never provokes, and he said the West created the situation in the Crimea and Ukraine through provocations. He said attempt is also being made to increase tension in the Baltic Sea.

When asked about revitalizing trade between Russia and the West, Putin said western companies should invest in Russia and thus compensate the decline in exports.

The talks continued late over the dinner, in which Finnish and Russian ministers responsible for economic development and environment issues also took part.

Focusing on the situation in the region,  Niinistö said that countries in the region should  agree that no flight should carried out without transponders.

Putin said that Russia accepts Niinistö's proposal and will take up the matter together with military alliance NATO.

According to Putin, also NATO countries should not fly without transponders in the region.

Putin said the matter will be raised in the agenda of the NATO-Russia council meeting.

Putin referred to Finland as a law abiding EU member state while Niinistö replied that Finland abiding by EU sanctions against Russia is not compliance with law. Finland was involved in deciding them (sanctions), said the President.

Putin said that Russia would react to the installation of NATO's anti-missile system in Poland and increase NATO troops presence in the Baltic region.

The Russian President said that Russia had pulled its troops 1500 kilometres away from the Finnish border, however, the situation may be changed, if Finland joins NATO.

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