Finnish leader says Russia is preparing for ‘long conflict with the West’

By Reuters - March 13, 2024
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FILE PHOTO: Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo attends a European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium February 1, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

Brussels (Reuters) – Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Wednesday Russia was gearing up for a “long conflict with the West” and he asked for more spending and coordination on European defence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks published on Wednesday that Finland and Sweden‘s entry into NATO was “a meaningless step” and that Russia will deploy troops and systems of destruction to the Finnish border after Finland joins the alliance.

Orpo told the European Parliament: “Russia is evidently preparing for a long conflict with the West and represents a permanent and essential military threat to Europe.”

“If we, as a united Europe, fail to respond sufficiently to this challenge, the coming years will be filled with danger and the looming threat of attack,”

Orpo, whose country neighbours Russia, urged the 27-country EU to step up defence spending and said the bloc had to take care of its own defence.

“Russia is not invincible,” he added.

Putin also warned the West on Wednesday that Russia was technically ready for nuclear war and that if the U.S. sent troops to Ukraine, it would be considered a significant escalation of the conflict.

 

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Nette Noestlinger, Editing by Angus MacSwan)