Finnish President Sauli Niinistö met his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin on his working visit to Sochi on 22 August 2018. During the visit, the two presidents discussed topical international issues, including Syria and Ukraine, safety in the Baltic Sea region, and EU-Russia relations.
President Putin greeted his Finnish colleague by announcing his willingness to participate in an Arctic Council summit, should one be held. In the press conference President Niinistö noted that the themes of the potential summit could include reducing black carbon emissions and the mandatory use of liquefied natural gas. “These may appear small steps, but unless we take them, nothing will happen”, President Niinistö commented.
President Niinistö also brought up expanding the current environmental cooperation. “Together with Russia, the European Union has implemented a programme whose achievements include the building of a water treatment plant in St Petersburg. In the future, this cooperation could perhaps be extended to waste management and treatment.”
President Putin reiterated Russia’s support for President Niinistö’s project on improving aviation safety over the Baltic Sea. President Niinistö reported that progress has been made in this work.
“The good practices developed in civilian aviation could also be introduced in the military context. I met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces as they visited Helsinki in the spring. I was surprised at the precision of their cooperation in Syria aiming to avoid any damage. The risks in Syria are far, far greater than over the Baltic Sea, and I am thus hopeful that the situation in the Baltic Sea will also settle down.”
Following the press conference, the Presidents continued their discussions while sailing on the Black Sea.
The Presidents last met in Finland in early July in connection with the #HELSINKI2018 meeting.