President Sauli Niinistö’s official 2-day visit to Ukraine has been broadly covered by both Ukrainian and Russian media. The vocabulary and the tone, however, of the coverage have been markedly different.
UNN (Ukrainian National News) Agency reports that President Niinistö received the traditional greeting of bread and salt on his arrival in Kiev, pointing out that this is the first visit of the president of Finland to Ukraine in five years.
Details of another agreement signed by Ukraine and Finland during this visit by President Niinistö: The agreement on mutual protection of restricted information. In addition, Head of the State Archives Service of Ukraine Tetiana Baranova and Director of the National Archives of Finland Jussi Nuorteva signed a memorandum of cooperation between their respective agencies. President Zelenskiy commented on the agreement as important because “it creates new opportunities for security authorities to cooperate, in particular in the context of counteracting hybrid threats on the part of the Russian Federation”.
The media outlet emphasizes that the president of Finland stresses that Finland “supports principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. The article quotes Niinistö as saying that President Zelenskiy “is carrying on fruitful work towards establishing peace in Ukraine”. The article refers to the Finnish president stating that he had been involved in discussing challenges to order in the region and in the world both with Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin and that he was interested to get Zelenskiy’s view.
Russian RIA Novosti starts its report on the Finnish president’s visit to Ukraine with his appreciation of the work of President Zelenskiy for the sake of peace. The agency reports on President Niinistö’s proposal that Finland act as an intermediary to contribute to the restoration of peace in eastern Ukraine. The agency points to the Finnish president’s invitation to Zelenskiy to visit Finland. It also notes that Ville Skinnari, the Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland, accompanied the president on the trip.
President Niinistö participated in the 16th Annual Yalta European Strategy (YES) Meeting “Happiness Now. New Approaches for a World in Crisis” held on September 12–14, 2019 in Kiev.
The Russian RIA Novosti reports that on the second day of his official visit to Kiev President Niinistö took part in the annual Yalta Conference. The agency entitles their article “The President of Finland Has Not Supported the Call by Zelenskiy to Keep Sanctions on Russia”. The agency quotes the Niinistö as stating, “There are voices which were asserting that the Russian economy will collapse due to sanctions and Russia will have to withdraw as a result. This has not happened and I am afraid it will not be the case in the future”. The agency also quotes the president as saying, “If we continue thinking in ‘yes or no’ or ‘black or white’ terms, we will fail”.
Ukrinform reports that during the joint press conference on September 12 Zelenskiy announced the agreement to deepen military cooperation with Finland and develop the dialogue between the defence agencies of both countries.
In Ukrinform’s report on the first day of the YES conference, which was opened with plenary statements from the presidents of Ukraine, Estonia and Finland, the main emphasis was on Zelenskiy’s call to maintain sanctions: “In the civilized world, paying taxes is the norm, in particular, to maintain order. Sanctions are, in fact, the same taxes required for the world order. This is a tax for peace. That’s why sanctions must be maintained until peace is restored,” the head of state said.
112.ua also presents an article on President Niinistö “doubting the efficiency of anti-Russian sanctions”.
Сensor.NET reports on President Niinistö’s statement at the YES conference concerning the importance of moving away from “black and white” rhetoric while considering ways of having a dialogue with Russia.
Apostrophe.ua offers the article “Ukraine points to a dangerous statement on Russia by the president of Finland”. The article quotes Arseny Yatsenuk, the People’s Front Party leader, as saying that President Niinistö’s statement on Russia at the YES conference “could lead to recognition of the annexation of Crimea”. Yatsenuk is reported as wishing to ask President Niinistö, “When the president of Finland says that the sanctions are not working, does he mean that he is favor of lifting them. Maybe it is time to make donations to Russia for every single land grab they have made in Europe since WW2?”
Ukrinform also states that President Zelenskiy said at the YES annual meeting that “he has a few ideas how to return Crimea”, that they “are thinking about a model and waiting for a meeting with the president of the United States”.
Gordon.ua reports on the agreement signed by the presidents of Finland and Ukraine to “deepen military cooperation” without detailing the kind of cooperation that was discussed. The outlet also refers to President Zelenskiy’s appreciation of “Finland’s contribution to demining Donbass and supporting the work of the OSCE SMM”.
Liga.net entitles their article on the opening speech by President Niinistö “A Dialogue is Required with Russia, not Sanctions – the President of Finland” pointing to President Niinistö’s reference to the completed exchange of prisoners as a positive measure to follow up. The article describes Niinistö’s statement as a proposal to “build a dialogue with the aggressor”.
Interfax-Ukraine also draws attention to the discussion between the two presidents at the YES conference in their article “President of Finland on cooperation with Russia: If we think only in black and white, we are doomed to failure”.
The official Webpage of the YES conference reports on President Niinistö’s speech on trust as the guarantee of a happy society.