Russia’s Ties with China, Iran and North Korea Threaten Europe, Finland Warns

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russia's ties with china, iran and north korea threaten europe, finland warns

Last updated on December 15th, 2023 at 04:01 pm

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said on Monday that Russia’s growing links with China, Iran and North Korea pose a threat to the security of Europe and the world.

Niinisto, who has maintained a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite tensions over Ukraine and other issues, said that Moscow’s cooperation with Beijing and Tehran was “a matter of concern” for Finland and its allies.

“Russia is seeking to strengthen its position in the world by building partnerships with countries that are challenging the international order,” Niinisto said in his annual foreign policy speech.

He cited Russia’s participation in joint military exercises with China, its support for Iran’s nuclear program and its involvement in North Korea‘s missile development as examples of Moscow’s alignment with “authoritarian regimes”.

Niinisto also warned of the risk of a new arms race in Europe, as Russia develops new weapons systems and NATO responds with increased deployments and exercises.

He urged dialogue and confidence-building measures to prevent escalation and miscalculation.

“Finland is ready to contribute to reducing tensions and promoting stability in Europe,” he said.

Niinisto, who was re-elected for a second six-year term in 2018, has a largely ceremonial role but is also in charge of Finland’s foreign and defense policy, along with the government.

He has met Putin several times since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and has also hosted U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump in Helsinki.

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Finland is not a member of NATO but cooperates closely with the alliance, as well as with the European Union, of which it is a part.

Niinisto said that Finland’s security policy was based on a “comprehensive approach” that includes military, diplomatic, economic and social aspects.

He said that Finland was committed to defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as to promoting human rights and democracy around the world.

He also called for more action to combat climate change, which he said was “the greatest threat to our common future”.

“Finland is determined to be a forerunner in climate action and to support the global efforts to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he said.

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