In a phone conversation between the two leaders on Friday, President Putin gave details to the Finnish president about Russia’s controversial military operations against rebel groups in Syria. President Niinistö also pledged active cooperation between the two countries despite a fall in trade.




Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, gave President Niinistö details about Russian military operations in Syria during a phone conversation on Friday, according to a Kremlin press source.


The Finnish President’s office said that during the call, Niinistö expressed Finland’s worries over rising tensions in the region, and called for international cooperation to bring peace to the country.


Although the Kremlin has insisted its military entered Syria in order to fight against so-called Islamic State militants, the airstrikes have been have been strongly criticised by states including the US and EU countries for instead targeting insurgents fighting against President Assad.


Active cooperation


The two presidents also discussed Finnish-Russian relations and the Ukraine crisis during the call, which the Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported was instigated by Helsinki.


Niinistö pledged that cooperation between the two countries will continue actively, despite a recent fall in Finnish-Russia trade.


President Niinistö said it was positive and important that the ceasefire in Ukraine has largely held, and that progress had been made through the terms of the Minsk agreement.


Niinistö has made clear in the past his desire to maintain open lines of communication with President Putin, even throughout recent periods of strained relations between Russia and the west. The two leaders hold regular phone conversations, which are often initiated by Helsinki.