Finland may soon face new and intense pressure from Putin's regime. In less than two weeks, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö will step down after twelve years in office, paving the way for a new candidate to be elected. Pekka Haavisto, the former Foreign Minister, is running for the third time and could be the successor.
Regardless of who wins, the immediate future will likely be shaped by developments at the border with Russia, asserts the candidate himself.
"Will Test Us"
Putin's regime may act in a way that could shock Finland. "I believe the next six years, the presidential term, will be challenging. It's possible that Russia will test the new president in unforeseeable ways," says Pekka Haavisto in an interview with Dagens Nyheter.
Has NATO's Support
As the Foreign Minister under Sanna Marin's government from 2019-2023, Haavisto played a key role when Finland applied for and was admitted to NATO following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
However, Haavisto refuses to express any fear about Putin's next actions, stating it does not reflect the Finnish people's attitude.
"If a threat arises, we have the entire NATO with us," he says, urging to keep the situation at the border calm.
Sauli Niinistö: "Wake Up!"
At the beginning of 2024, the current Finnish President Niinistö sent a strong message to the Finnish people and Europe in one of his final speeches, emphasizing the need to continue supporting Ukraine and urging Europe to "wake up."
"Europe must wake up. Investing in weapons production is not only necessary to provide the needed help. It's needed to ensure Europe is strong, not for war, but for peace."
Putin Hard to Analyze
Niinistö also urged European countries to take greater responsibility in NATO, especially considering speculations about the impact of the American election on security cooperation, specifically if Donald Trump returns to power.
He noted that Putin's regime is difficult to analyze. "Russia is never as strong as it appears to be, and never as weak as it seems. Russia's intention to defeat Ukraine in a few weeks failed because of the Ukrainians' bravery in overcoming the assault."