Finland regions

Finland’s president says Minsk agreement should be reviewed

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto speaks during a news briefing on the result of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Helsinki, Finland November 8, 2020. Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva/via REUTERS

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HELSINKI, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The Minsk agreement should be reviewed to find a solution to the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Friday.

Niinisto said Russian President Vladimir Putin brought up the Minsk agreement during his recent discussion with him.

The Minsk package of agreements was signed in 2014 and 2015 by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

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Finland, which is not a NATO member, shares the European Union’s longest external border with Russia, and Niinisto has insisted on regular talks with Putin throughout the years of crisis and frozen relations between the West and Russia since the annexation of Crimea.

Niinisto said the Minsk agreement had been somewhat forgotten for several years, but during his last call with Putin, the Russian leader re-emphasized its importance.

“A possible solution and the most possible solution (to the current situation) could be that the Minsk agreement is respected or that there is significant progress in its implementation,” said Niinisto, in conclusion of his talks with Putin.

In Russia’s list of demands under the Minsk agreement, Niinisto said continued arms control and averting possible military risks were among the key points that could lead to the opening of the current deadlock in the talks to resolve the crisis.

One of the most difficult issues to settle in the agreement will be Russia’s demand to give the Donbass region or the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine in Ukraine an autonomous status and the right to veto over Ukraine’s foreign relations, said Niinisto.

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Reporting by Anne Kauranen; edited by John Stonestreet and Angus MacSwan

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