Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the Finnish prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta, on Saturday to talk about the ongoing war in Ukraine and other topics.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) met with her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, at the Finnish prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) met with her Swedish colleague Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson at the Finnish prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta, on Saturday afternoon.

Prime Minister Andersson was thankful for being invited to Helsinki on a such beautiful Saturday; the sky was clear and the sun was shining high, while the temperature was about one degree Celsius above zero.

However, dark clouds of war were hovering over Europe, and that’s what the premiers were going to address.

After their discussions, both prime ministers stressed the fact that neither of their respective countries is under any military threat. Andersson said that close cooperation with Finland makes both Nordic countries stronger in this very special situation.

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Prime Minister reiterated what President Sauli Niinistö said on Friday after he met with US President Joe Biden: Finland has moved toward closer cooperation with the United States.

Understandably, then, the media seemed to be mainly interested in one question: Are Finland and Sweden now moving closer toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO, the intergovernmental military alliance of 30 member states from Europe, North America and Asia?

The premiers couldn’t say directly.

Prime Minister Marin and Swedish Prime Minister Andersson at Kesäranta. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

For example, Prime Minister Marin answered a question regarding if Finland is asking NATO to grant Finland and Sweden a major non-NATO ally status MNNA by saying that “I won’t comment that on this stage.”

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Currently, the United States has designated 30 countries as MNNAs, from Brazil to Argentina. The status itself doesn’t grant military aid in case of an attack of a foreign country. Instead, the status, for example, enables a foreign country to buy depleted uranium bullets that can penetrate enemy armored vehicles, tanks and such.

The prime ministers considered it understandable that support for joining NATO among the citizens of Finland and Sweden has increased in some polls.

After all, calls to crisis hotlines have increased in the past week in Finland; in addition to personal problems, Ukraine, has according to the officials on call been a topic in nearly every discussion.

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On top of that, an increasing number of people who are part of the military reserve are now calling the Finnish Defence Forces to participate in the refresher training exercises, to which the army has replied:

Finland is not under an imminent military threat.

“This is a great sign of the motivation of the Finnish people and of the willingness, if necessary, to join the defense of the country. Finland has a reserve of about 900,000 trained soldiers. 97 percent of our strength during wartime is based on our reserve,” Jukka Nurmi, a colonel and inspector of voluntary national defense, said in a statement.

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