Finland's president has a message for Russia as it inches closer to joining NATO: 'You caused this'

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Finland's President Sauli Niinisto makes a point during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Presidential Palace on May 11, 2022 in Helsinki, Finland.
  • Finland's president blamed Russia and its war in Ukraine for pushing it closer to joining NATO.

  • Sauli Niinisto spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Helsinki on Wednesday.

  • Earlier, the UK signed new security and defense agreements with Finland and Sweden.

Finland's president didn't leave anyone guessing on Wednesday as to who is responsible for pushing the northern European country closer to joining NATO: Russia.

If Finland joins NATO in the near future and Russia questions why, Sauli Niinisto during a press conference with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Helsinki said his response would be, "You caused this — look at the mirror."

Russia has repeatedly warned Finland and Sweden against joining NATO while urging the military alliance to close its door to new members. He added by making these demands, Russia assumed Finland doesn't have its "own will."

Niinisto said this realization — along with Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine — changed the situation, because it suggested Russia is "ready to attack a neighboring country."

"For us, joining NATO would be not against anybody — we would like to maximize our security," Sauli said, arguing that increasing Finland's security isn't a zero-sum game and won't detract from anyone else's security.

Related video: Why Russia's military is failing so far in Ukraine

The UK on Wednesday signed new security agreements with Finland — and neighboring Sweden — to strengthen the two Nordic countries' defenses against Russia. Under the deals, the UK, which is nuclear-armed, pledged to come to the defense of Finland and Sweden if they're attacked and request assistance.

Both Finland and Sweden — which have historically been militarily unaligned — appear set to join NATO in the near future as security concerns heighten amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on the subject during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Stockholm last month, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said, "Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine."

Polling conducted in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shown record levels of support for joining NATO among Swedes and Finns. On Tuesday, BBC News reported that the two Scandinavian countries could move to join the military alliance within days.

Read the original article on Business Insider