A senior diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki told YLE News that President Vladimir Putin may stay in power for the next 15-20 years.
Speaking in an interview with Finland’s state-run broadcaster, YLE, Mr Vladimir Kozin, Senior Counsellor at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, warned Finland that Russia would regard membership in NATO as a direct threat.
Mr Kozin advised Finland to drop ideas to join the NATO until at least 15-20 years. In this context, Mr Kozin reminded that President Putin may become Prime Minister in the interim, and that he may stay in power until 2023 or 2025.
Mr Kozin said Finland should “think, think, and think” before deciding on NATO. The Finnish Defence Minister, Mr Jyri Häkämies, said in a speech in Washington that Finland’s main security challenge was “Russia, Russia, and Russia”.
Instead of joining NATO, the senior Russian diplomat proposed a strategic partnership with Russia, including joint military exercises. Soviet Union made a similar suggestion to Finland in the 1970s..