President Niinistö attended JEF Leaders’ Summit in London and met Prime Minister Johnson

The Heads of State and Government of the JEF countries met in London. Photo: Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street

The Heads of State and Government of the JEF countries met in London. Photo: Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street

President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö visited London on 14–15 March 2022. At the invitation of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, President Niinistö attended the JEF Leaders' Summit and met Johnson bilaterally at his residence in Downing Street 10.

President Niinistö and Prime Minister Johnson had a thorough discussion about the situation in Ukraine, Russia and security in Europe.

It was concluded that the cooperation between Britain and Finland is deep and should be further developed. In recent years, determined efforts have been taken to deepen the cooperation both bilaterally and within the framework of JEF. “We have full British support on our side when we make decisions, no matter in which direction,” said President Niinistö to the media in the afternoon.

When meeting with Finnish media, President Niinistö said that the risk of escalation of the war in Ukraine gives particular cause for concern. The President highlighted the dilemma, in which we need to weigh the need to put an end to killing against the danger of escalation of war. “This is a really difficult equation to solve, and it seems to me that the pressure to end the killing in one way or another just keeps on growing”.

“We all had the same goal”

The issues covered by the JEF meeting included the Russian military operations, support for Ukraine and the long-term impact of the war. At the beginning of the meeting, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi also participated remotely and gave an account of the prevailing situation in Ukraine.

President Niinistö informed the media that, despite serious issues, the general atmosphere at the meeting was very amicable. “All those attending stood strongly behind the same goal.” The discussions focused on the mutual coordination of aid, the development of activities between the JEF countries, such as exercises, and the impact of economic sanctions. “Above all, we discussed what the future will look like if and when, at some point, this ongoing crisis, the war, is resolved.”

During his visit, the President also met Prince Charles, the Labour leader Keir Starmer and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

JEF, or Joint Expeditionary Force, is a United Kingdom-led multilateral defence cooperation framework involving not only the United Kingdom and Finland but also the Netherlands, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia. The aim is to develop the military capabilities of the countries involved through joint exercises, prevent different kinds of crises and, if necessary, act jointly in crisis situations. JEF’s main operating environment is Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region.