Finland’s President warns NATO leaders to prepare for a potential conflict

Alexander Stubb, President of the Republic of Finland

© APA | Alexander Stubb, President of the Republic of Finland

# 11 April 2024 11:22 (UTC +04:00)

Finland’s new president has warned other NATO leaders to be less “belligerent” in their rhetoric against Russia and instead prepare their armies for a potential conflict, APA reports citing Financial Times.

Alexander Stubb told the Financial Times that helping Kyiv immediately and readying their militaries is what European countries should really focus on — even as he did not believe Moscow would attack a NATO country before 2030.

“I’m a little bit worried about this rather belligerent talk about Russia going to test Article 5 [NATO's collective defence clause], and that Europe is next in line. I think we should prepare for that, but I think it’s highly unlikely,” Stubb, who took office last month, said in his first international newspaper interview. “What I call on all European states to do is to become more Finnish. In other words, more prepared. You have to prepare for the worst in order to avoid it,” he added.

Supporting Kyiv in coming months was paramount, as Russian President Vladimir Putin was “feeling very confident” and targeting a “window of opportunity” to break Ukraine’s frontline defences between now and September, Stubb said.

Stubb urged NATO countries to “support Ukraine for as long as it takes and at this stage with almost whatever it takes” to repel Russia’s springtime offensive. He added: “The Russians understand that their window of opportunity will start ending towards the end of August, start of September. That is why it’s urgent for us to help Ukraine right now.”

He also said that Finland in the short term was emptying “our own storage [of weapons and ammunition] in order to support Ukraine, and then refill our own”.

“For the alliance and the [European] Union, it’s not only about the frontline states being prepared, it’s about everyone being prepared,” he added. “The good news is that we are prepared, come hell or high water.”

Among the measures other European countries should consider, Stubb mentioned conscription, which is mandatory in Finland.

Asked about Russia’s military plans to increase its presence along the Finnish border, Stubb replied: “We are not worried about it all, but we’re prepared.”

He added that Finland’s base-case scenario was that by 2030 Russia will still have an authoritarian leader and that it “will have replenished its army to roughly the same level as before the war began”.