Sari Rautio’s opinion is that Europe’s security is at risk following the Russian invasion. Finland has started a national debate about its foreign and defense policies. The discussion does not exclude Finland’s integration into NATO. Before taking over the Finnish Embassy at Madrid in September, the diplomat was director of Security Policy and Crisis Management Unit of Helsinki’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for three years. Rautio is well-versed in Brussels’ corridors, having worked as the Permanent Representation of Finland (EU) for three years. She then assumed the responsibility of the Finnish Embassy in Madrid in September.
Does Finland feel threatened by the Russian invasion?
While we don’t see Russia as a threat immediately, the invasion of Ukraine has impacted our sense of security. We don’t feel any direct threat from Russia, although it has an effect on our security environment.
The Government announced an increase in defense expenditures. What other means is the country using to prepare for new threats?
The war in Georgia 2008, Crimea 2014. Wasn’t Europe too accommodating for Putin?
Retrospectively, it is much easier to see the events. We now see how we could have reacted more strongly. It doesn’t help to look back at what has happened, but we must look ahead. After the unjustified attack Russia mounted in recent weeks, we have been swift and determined in the European Union as well as with our transatlantic allies. It is clear that Russia’s actions have made the situation worse and it is now difficult to imagine how we will restore trust with Russia.
Russia has broken shared principles like the inviolability border and peaceful settlement of disputes. Is it necessary to create a new European order
Russia is not following the 1975 agreements. Now we need to work out how to make sure that all countries follow these rules. To restore these rules, we may need to enter into negotiations. However, I do not believe now is the right time. We are currently in a war against Russia, and we will find out more later. It is clear that Russia does not respect international law or European security rules.
How does one explain that 63% of Finns now support NATO membership?
The reasons are evident: Russia’s unjustified and total war in Ukraine. The Finns know that Russia is not someone we can trust, and that Russia uses violence to achieve its political ends. These threats could be protected by NATO, according to Finns who support Finland’s membership in NATO.
We are a NATO Peace Partnership member since 1994. Since 1994, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea to NATO, the relations between NATO, Finland, and Sweden have developed rapidly and are now very limited. The last few years have seen Sweden and Finland participate in large numbers in NATO Defense and International Ministers meetings. We also see the need for close relations between our countries in order to promote security for all. The Finnish defense forces are 100% compatible to those of NATO.