Finnish Politician Forced to Step Down for Saying Ukraine Should Not Join NATO

Despite Finland long resisting calls to be put on a path to joining NATO (though closely cooperating with the military alliance), a political scandal has emerged this week after a top Finnish politician stated that it should be made clear that Ukraine will not joint NATO.

Member of the Finns Party Mika Niikko was forced to step down as parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee chair over a Tuesday morning tweet. He stated while French President Emmanuel Macron was in Moscow meeting Putin that the French leader "should say publicly that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO."

"Otherwise, the negotiations will be considered a failure from a Russian perspective and the consequences will be terrible. Are there no wise heads of state in the West who know Russia?" Niikko wrote further.

His party issued an immediate reprimand and the tweet created a media storm of controversy, with Finnish officials quick to clarify to Finland's Western allies that this is not the country's position on the Ukraine matter.

"Finland's position is clear and has been restated regularly," Centre MP Joonas Könttä said in the wake of the controversy. "All independent states have the right to decide on their own security. It is not Finland's place to advise on how other states should make those decisions".

According to Finnish media, Niikko deleted the tweet, saying "I openly admit that the tweet I published this morning was poorly formulated"...

He soon deleted the tweet, which suggested that Russia would not regard this week's visit to Moscow by Macron as a success unless such a statement was forthcoming.
Niikko then told Yle that he supported Ukraine's sovereignty, and had worded his tweet carelessly.
"The goal was not to take a position on whether Ukraine could seek Nato membership," said Niikko. "Ukraine is fully entitled to make its own decisions."

The politician, who has had prior "gaffes" stir national controversy, explained further, "Everyone knows that Ukraine and Nato decide on possible membership applications themselves, nobody else has a say." He added: "It is not about a move in a certain direction, my comment was acknowledging the reality that in this situation, Nato is not going to save Ukraine. That is my personal opinion," and sought to clarify: "Finland's foreign policy line is that we give full support for Ukrainian sovereignty."

Western officials have broadly faced immense media pressure to present only hawkish and confrontational views aimed at Russia. This also includes the US Congress. For example, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley has been slammed as somehow "pro-Putin" for merely saying that China, not Russia is America's real long-term rival and enemy.

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