Finland: End to Russian invasion of Ukraine is to everyone’s interest
MANILA, Philippines—It should be in the interest of the international community to end the war in Ukraine, nearly a year since Russian dictator Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the former Soviet republic, according to a ranking Finnish diplomat.
Johanna Sumuvuori, state secretary to Finland’s minister of foreign affairs, said at a recent interview here that Putin’s assault on Ukraine had triggered a global food crisis and is threatening economic growth worldwide.
“It’s a problem if it takes too long because it’s already disrupting many things like the economy. It’s disrupting trade routes. It’s worsening the food crisis on the African continent for example, and some parts of the world,” she told the Inquirer.
“The disruption is so serious that I think that everybody’s interest should be now globally to do their utmost to stop this war…It’s not only about Ukraine and Europe. It’s a global issue,” Sumuvuori said.
Putin’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine, which shows no signs of relenting as it marks its first year on Feb. 24, had worsened global inflation and impeded the flow of goods.
Sumuvuori said Finland is also “prepared to see the long war” and has expressed readiness to provide long-term support to Ukraine.
“We hope that this war will end as soon as possible but we are also prepared to see the long war…we don’t actually know (how long) but we are prepared. We are ready to give military and civilian and humanitarian assistance assistance to Ukraine as long as needed,” Sumuvuori said.
She said it was up to Ukraine “when they think that they are in the situation when they want to start to talk about a peace process” and Finland would continue efforts to support the Ukrainians.
“We will continue to support Ukraine as long as it’s needed, because they are fighting for international rules-based order and the whole global security system,” Sumuvuori said.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, it was also a blatant violation against the UN Charter and it was a violation of the rules-based order, and for Finland, those values are very important. That’s why we are very adamant in keeping our strong support to Ukraine,” she added.
Putin’s aggression has pushed Finland, which shares a 1,300-km border with Russia, to abandon its longstanding neutrality and take the historic step, along with Sweden, of formally applying to join the US-led defense alliance North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) last year.
Finland’s NATO membership, although currently impeded by Turkey, was expected to dramatically change the security landscape in Europe and stretch the NATO border with Russia.
“I think it is an important alliance because there is a mutual security assurance between member states, and from our side, when we started our (application) process, we are always saying that we don’t only want to be gaining something. Of course, we do gain enhanced security in Finland and Europe when we join the NATO, but we also want to be trusted security providers,” she said.
Finland has so far provided around 330 million euros of overall assistance to Ukraine last year, she said. Last week, its defense ministry announced a fresh donation of 400 million euros worth of military equipment for Ukraine, excluding the Leopard 2 tanks which it could possibly send.
“It’s really something that the whole of society supports— the government opposition, and also the general public… We think that it’s so important that they are fighting for so much more. They’re fighting for their sovereignty and territorial integrity but they are fighting for big principles of the international rule-based system,” she said.
Sumuvuori was in Manila last week to attend the reopening of the Finnish embassy in Manila and for the seventh round of political consultations with Philippine counterparts. Officials from both countries briefed each other on political and economic developments. They also discussed trade, science, education, science and technology, climate change, among others.
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