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As elections in Finland approach, candidates vie for title of 'toughest' on Russia

As elections in Finland approach, candidates vie for title of 'toughest' on Russia Photo: Finland's presidential candidates compete for the toughest position on the Russian Federation (pixabay com)

For the first time since World War II, Finnish presidential candidates are competing to take the toughest stance on Russia during their election campaigns, reports Reuters.

They seek to please voters who perceive Russia's behavior toward its neighbors as hostile and aggressive.

"Finns were angered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and are worried about a surge in migrants arriving in Finland via Russia, which led the Nordic country to close its entire 1,340-km (830-mile) border with Russia to passenger traffi," the article writes.

Johanna Vuorelma, a political scientist at the University of Helsinki, said that if earlier the goal was competition for who has the best relations with Russia and who is better able to negotiate and interpret Russian policy, now the competition has shifted more towards the one who has the toughest position on the Russian Federation, and perhaps also in defense policy.

What is the responsibility of the president of Finland

The President of Finland manages foreign and security policy in close cooperation with the government. He also represents the country at NATO meetings and acts as the commander-in-chief of the Finnish Defense Forces.

The Nordic country was admitted to NATO last year, ending seven decades of non-alignment and prompting Russian threats of "countermeasures".

"The new president will replace retiring Sauli Niinisto, nicknamed the "Putin Whisperer" for his previous close connections with the Russian leader," writes Reuters.

What statements candidates make

The poll leader, center-right Alexander Stubb from the National Coalition, said that the next president will not only be the first Finnish president of NATO, but also "a Western president in many ways."

Nationalist candidate Jussi Halla-Aho, who is in third place in the polls and rising, has taken the toughest line on Russia as he tries to catch up with Stubb and Liberal candidate Pekka Haavisto.

Halla-Aho, a critic of the EU and a supporter of a tough anti-immigration line, has publicly called Russia a "rogue state" and wants to deprive Finnish citizens of dual Russian-Finnish citizenship. He also called for tough measures in response to the migration crisis arranged by the Russian Federation and the expansion of its defense cooperation with the United States.

Pro-European former prime minister Stubb joined Halla-Aho and two other right-leaning candidates in backing the idea of ​​ending dual citizenship in recent election debates.

Finland-Russia relations

Recently, the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin attacked Finland with threats because of the country's accession to NATO . He claimed that the Russian Federation would send troops to the Finnish border.

The government of Finland is preparing to ban the import of Russian liquefied gas into the country from next year. Helsinki does not plan to wait until it falls under appropriate sanctions from the European Union.

Also, the Finnish government did not approve three agreements with the Russians regarding the sale of real estate in the eastern part of the country.