15th Apr 2024

Finnish PM: Russia preparing for 'long conflict with West'

  • Russia is not 'invincible' but 'self-satisfaction is no longer an option,' Finnish prime minister Petteri Orpo said, referring to the need for Europe to step up its defence capabilities (Photo: European Parliament)
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Finland, with a border of over 1,300 kilometres with Russia, has cautioned about the potential danger of a Russian attack in the upcoming years — echoing earlier concerns from high-ranking politicians.

"Russia is evidently preparing for a long conflict with the West, and represents a permanent and existential military threat to Europe," Finnish prime minister Petteri Orpo said in an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (13 March).

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"Imagine what will happen next if Russia succeeds [in Ukraine]," he also said, pointing out that Russian military capabilities are limited and that every euro in support of Ukraine is "a low price compared to the alternative costs if Russia wins".  

In February, EU co-legislators finally gave the green light to the EU's €50bn four-year economic aid package for Ukraine.

But Helsinki has also encouraged EU member states to step up efforts to deliver on the 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition and to agree on additional funding for the European Peace Facility (EPF), an off-budget tool used to reimburse bilateral donations to Ukraine.

The EPF includes the new Ukraine Assistance Fund, with an injection of €5bn extra of military aid.

Following months of discussions about the reform of the EPF, in which differences between France and Germany have dominated talks, a deal was reached by EU ambassadors on Wednesday evening.

Since the beginning of the war, the EU mobilised some €6.1bn under the EPF, according to the European Commission.

Russia is not "invincible" but "self-satisfaction is no longer an option," said Orpo, referring to the need for Europe to step up its defence capabilities and border security.

"We can overcome this challenge if we pool our resources together. We have the financial means, now we need to demonstrate our political commitment", he also said.

With the EU having agreed last December to open accession talks with Ukraine, the Finish prime ministers also said it was crucial for Europe to "offer a credible European path forward for Ukraine".

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said this week that Kyiv has "completed everything" to ensure further progress in its membership bid to the EU.

Zelensky also said the draft negotiating framework, setting the guidelines for the accession negotiations, was finalised on Tuesday.

In February, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who is now seeking a new term, said that they would submit the negotiating framework in mid-March.

"The decision now rests with EU member states. We continue to prepare for the accession negotiations," said Zelensky earlier this week on X, formerly Twitter.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian leader expressed gratitude to partners for their commitment to the so-called "security agreements".

"Each security agreement signed by Ukraine and its partners strengthens and reassures our shared goal of upholding international law and protecting every life," he said.

Ukraine has signed security agreements with the UK, Germany and France as well as Denmark, Italy, and Canada — including military assistance.

This article has been updated to indicate that there has been an agreement on the reform of the European Peace Facility


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