President Niinistö at JEF leaders meeting: Support for Ukraine must continue until Ukraine gets a legitimate peace

President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö attended a meeting of Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) leaders in Riga on Monday, 19 December. The topics of discussion were Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the European security situation.

In his press conference after the meeting, President Niinistö told Finnish journalists that the leaders shared their views on the situation in Ukraine. “Support for Ukraine must continue until Ukraine gets a legitimate peace. And it’s hard to see at the moment when the war would end in that way.”

The future prospects of JEF cooperation were also discussed at the meeting. “There will be, of course, much coordination with NATO activities, particularly at the stage when Finland and Sweden are also members.”

The President considered that JEF may, in the future, complement NATO in many ways. As an example, he raised crisis situations that require a rapid reaction. “We have now seen that NATO’s decision-making process may take much more time than that of a smaller group that is very like-minded,” he said.

Representatives from all ten countries involved in JEF defence cooperation participated in the meeting, which was hosted by Krišjānis Kariņš, Prime Minister of Latvia, and Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, which leads the JEF cooperation. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy also addressed the meeting by video connection.

Before the JEF meeting, President Niinistö’s programme included a bilateral meeting with President of Latvia Egils Levits.

JEF is a UK-led multilateral framework for defence cooperation formed by ten countries: in addition to the United Kingdom and Finland, the group includes the Netherlands, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia. The aim is to develop the military capabilities of the participating countries through joint exercises, prevent various crises and, if necessary, act together in crisis situations. JEF’s main operating environment is Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region.

The previous meeting of JEF leaders was held in London in March 2022.