Interpreter of Putin's thoughts

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been speaking extensively on the phone in recent weeks. Since the turn of the year, the line has been open to Cuba, Armenian, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, Azerbaijan, of Pakistan, of Israel, of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, with the leaders of Belarus and Turkey.
There are calls almost every day, but from a politically narrow area: The leaders of the former Soviet republics and the more or less authoritarian leaders of Latin America are the ones who talk with Putin.
Among the calls in January are two EU countries. France holding the presidency of the Union, which President Emmanuel Macron discussed with Putin on Friday.
Sauli Niinisto is one of the few leaders belonging to the lance camp, who has a proverbial speaking connection with Putin. Han spoke with Putin in January 21. day and so before 14. december.
Niinisto's reign has lasted almost a decade. Few leaders have known Putin for as long as Niinisto.
This has also been noticed in Germany, says well-connected German foreign policy expert Jana Puglierin. In Germany, according to Puglierini, Niinisto's kindness towards Venaja is appreciated, although at the same time Finland is ready for dialogue.
- Han is prominently featured in the German debate, last week the weekly newspaper Die Zeit published a big interview.
Niinisto has come into the spotlight, because the giant of European foreign policy is gone. German 16 Angela Merkel, who ruled for the year, continued politics for the rest of the year.
- Niinisto has credibility in the situation, where many European leaders are trying to fill the power vacuum left by Merkel but where they lack credibility, Puglierin says.
Like Niinisto, Merkel was one of the few European leaders, with whom Putin talked and met proverbially for years.
The presidents of the Baltic countries or Poland do not meet Putin in the same way. The Swedish leadership does not call Putin.
Merkel's successor, Germany's new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has not yet met Putin even once as chancellor. In the midst of a politically borderline sensitive situation, even the usual familiarization trip to Moscow could not be arranged. Scholz and Putin have spoken once on the phone.
A well-known German expert on Venaja, journalist Michael Thumann says telephone diplomacy is like playing the piano with top gloves, if the counterparty is unknown. Merkel, on the other hand, speaks fluent Russian, and learned how to talk to his counterpart even in the midst of crises.
- Merkel knew how to read those moments too, while Putin was silent, sanoo Thumann, who works as a Moscow correspondent for Die Zeit weekly.
There is a demand for that literacy. Russia has created the situation with its ultimatums and the concentration of troops on the Ukrainian border, where European peace is in Putin's pocket. The United States in particular warns that a major attack is possible.
Because you can no longer ask Merkel about Putin's mental movements, Niinisto is asked about Putin.
So did Michael Thumann, who together with his colleague interviewed Niinisto.
An interview published in Die Zeit last week (you switch to another service) started with a direct question about Putin's character.
- I had made an impact, how openly he answered, Thumann sanoo.
Niinisto replied that Putin is a fighter. Fighter, to which you have to answer hard if necessary. According to Niinisto, however, Putin respects his counterpart, if she respects Putin.
According to foreign policy expert Puglierini, Niinisto's nakemy is appreciated, because he doesn't treat Venaja emotionally even in the midst of the current tense situation.
- Niinisto is a role model for many in German politics, how to work properly with Venaja, Puglierin says.
Han heads the Berlin office of the prestigious European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
It's still not a coincidence, that it is President Niinisto who is featured. Han has made a name for himself.
In November of last year, Niinisto traveled to Berlin on a business visit before the omikron changed course of the pandemic. Niinisto was hosted by German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
On his way, Niinisto promoted his idea of ​​the spirit of Helsinki. Safety in Niinisto's thinking Add it, that disagreeing leaders can be brought to the treasure of the same table even with a small common denominator.
In order to strengthen the spirit of Helsinki, Finland is campaigning for the presidency of European security- and cooperation network in the OSCE for one year 2025, when will 50 years since the Helsinki Etyk meeting.
Niinisto also presented his ideas at two different general events. Outside Germany had been invited to listen to the speech given at the Korber-saation in the heart of Berlin- and security policy elites, among them also Jana Puglieri.
The meeting held behind closed doors had also invited leading experts from Finland.
In the year 2018 Steinmeier, in turn, was in trouble in Finland. Also at that time, Finnish and German experts were invited to participate in the presidents' discussion.
Die Zeit's Michael Thumann participated in the Helsinki meeting. Because Niinisto's thinking was familiar to Thumanni, he thought of asking for an interview.
- You already shared a picture of that conversation with me, that Niinisto is really trying to understand Putin's way of thinking, Thumann sanoo.
That's also why Finland is interesting in Germany at the moment, that Russia's priority area claim directly applies to Finland and Sweden.
Russia has demanded that the United States and NATO commit to it, that NATO would no longer expand to the east. The United States and NATO have already responded, that the demand is not agreed to.
It took weeks before the German public debate really raised the claim that it meant countries other than Ukraine. One wake-up call was Niinisto's New Year's speech, which was widely reported around Europe.
Die Zeit's correspondent Michael Thumann thinks that Russia's NATO demand concerns above all Finland and Sweden. There is an open border conflict in Ukraine, which makes Ukraine's NATO membership only a theoretical possibility.
Thumann also asked Sauli Niinisto about it. Niinisto's interpretation was, that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled the ultimatum regarding Finland and Sweden at the press conference in January.
- It's special, yes, Niinisto stated in an interview with Die Zeit.
The interpretation concerns Lavrov's answer to the question posed by Yle correspondent Erkka Mikkonen, does Venaja respect the sovereignty of Finland and Sweden and the right to make their own security policy decisions, such as the pathos military alliance for joining NATO.
Lavrov replied, that Venaja fully respects the sovereignty of Finland and Sweden.
Thumann interprets Lavrov's answer differently. In Hane's opinion, Lavrov's message was counter-intuitive - when you listen to the answer longer.
Lavrov continued: We agree, that countries' neutrality policy is one of the most accurate antes, which the countries have given to build the European security infrastructure and to build stability in Europe.
According to Thumann, that was the message, that only the non-alignment of Finland and Sweden is a guarantee of stability in Europe.


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