Tue, Nov 29, 2022 5:15 PM
By NICK PERRY, Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Finland's leader says it must give more weapons and support to Ukraine to ensure it wins its war against Russia.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the comments Wednesday in Auckland on the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to New Zealand and Australia. Among the aims of the visit are improving diplomatic relations and trade ties.
“We need hard power when it comes to Ukraine,” Marin told reporters when asked what soft-power influence smaller countries like Finland and New Zealand could exert.
“They need weapons, they need financial support, they need humanitarian support, and we need to also make sure that all the refugees fleeing from Ukraine are welcomed to Europe," Marin said.
Since the war began, both Finland and Sweden have abandoned their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied to join NATO. Both countries are still seeking endorsement from Turkey.
Marin said the war felt very concrete for Finland due to the 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border it shares with Russia. She said Finland had already given 10 shipments of weapons to Ukraine.
“We have to make sure that they will win,” Marin said.
She said Western countries also needed to ensure sanctions were “harder and harder against Russia” because the war was affecting everyone, not only the innocent civilians dying in Ukraine but also people worldwide with higher energy prices.
Marin met with her New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern before the two leaders held a joint news conference.
Asked about their roles as women leaders, Ardern said she and Marin felt a responsibility to use their voices on behalf of repressed women, like those in Iran.
“The focus of our conversation is what more we could do together in support of other women in other countries who are facing dire circumstances, where we see the most basic of human rights being repressed and violated,” Ardern said.
Marin, meanwhile, tried to brush off criticism of her as a partying prime minister, after a video leaked this year showing her dancing and singing with friends at a private party.
She said she had more important issues to focus on, including the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Europe, the energy crisis and a looming economic crisis.
“So I had a couple of free days during the summer,” Marin said. “And if the media wants to focus on it, I don't have anything to say. You are free to discuss and write what you want, but I'm focusing on the issues that are in our program."