Finland Warns of New Cold War Over Failure to Grasp Situation in Russia

Russian An-72 transport aircraft in Finnish airspace, Aug. 28, 2014Western countries are at the gates of a new cold war with Russia, sparked by the Ukraine crisis and a continuing failure to grasp the depth and seriousness of Vladimir Putin’s grievances with the US and EU, the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, has warned. . . .

“The Finnish way of dealing with Russia, whatever the situation, is that we will be very decisive to show what we don’t like, where the red line is. And that is what we are prepared to do,” Niinistö said, referring to recent violations of Finnish airspace by Russian military aircraft.

“We put the Hornets [US-made Finnish air force F-18 fighter aircraft] up there and the Hornets were flying alongside the Russian planes … The Russians turned back. If they had not, what would we have done? I would not speculate. . . .”

“We are in the position in the west of asking what is Putin up to,” Niinistö said. “Putin keeps saying the west and Nato are hostile. [He says] they have deceived Russia with Nato enlargement and they are undermining and humiliating Russia. “So this is a situation that is not promising. I have said we are almost at the gates of a new kind of cold war that could suck in all of Europe.”

Niinisto discussed the Ukraine situation with Putin in person in August and said he remained in touch with the Russian leader. He said the US and EU were partly to blame for not paying enough attention to Putin’s assertions that the west was weak, hedonistic and hostile to Russia’s values, including religious values. The EU had failed to appreciate its plans for closer ties with Ukraine posed a “huge problem” for Putin. . . .

For Russia, Syria was only the latest example of perceived western weakness, an influential government insider in Helsinki said.

“A bigger factor is the consistent softness shown by the EU and the US when it comes to Russian actions. They [the Russians] have got away with murder since the first Chechen war and especially since [the Russian military intervention in] Georgia [in 2008],” the insider said. . . .

Russian officials have repeatedly warned Finland, which is 100% dependent on Russian gas supplies, against taking up Nato membership.

Image: Russian An-72 transport aircraft in Finnish airspace, Aug. 28, 2014 (photo: Finnish Air Force)