Finnish president cautions West over “aggressive” talk on Russia

NATO should be prepared for an attack from Moscow, although this is “highly unlikely,” Finnish President Alexander Stubb has said

The West need not fear a potential Russian attack for at least a few years and should instead devote most of its available security resources to assisting Ukraine, as well as readying its own militaries, Finnish President Alexander Stubb has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday, Stubb, who was sworn into office last month, expressed concern that the West had been sidetracked by “rather belligerent talk” that Moscow could attack NATO. 

“I think we should prepare for that, but I think it’s highly unlikely,” the president argued, nonetheless urging members of the US-led bloc to “prepare for the worst in order to avoid it.” 

According to Stubb, the EU has several years to change its thinking from what he described as the “la-la land” era following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when most European countries slashed their defense spending to prioritize welfare.

For the time being, he called on his Western counterparts to “support Ukraine for as long as it takes and at this stage with almost whatever it takes.” 

Kiev urgently needs assistance as Russia sees a “window of opportunity” to push back Ukrainian troops as part of a potential major offensive this year, Stubb claimed. He further suggested that this window would last until late summer or early autumn.

Finland, which broke with decades-long neutrality and joined NATO last spring, is doing its utmost to give Ukraine as many weapons as possible, while replenishing its own stocks, the president said.

Stubb’s comments come as a string of Western leaders warn that Russia could attack NATO countries within a few years, insisting that the bloc must ramp up its defense industry and military power to brace for a potential stand-off. 

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps went so far as to suggest that the world is in a “pre-war” period, and that any Western nations that fail to invest in security are playing “Russian roulette.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed speculation that Moscow plans to attack NATO as “nonsense.” At the same time, Russia has for decades voiced concern about the eastward expansion of the US-led military bloc, seeing it as a “tool of confrontation” aimed at undermining the country.