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News, 2/2/2017

Finland concerned about escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has escalated and flagrant violations of the ceasefire have occurred in the past few days.  Finland is concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The Donetsk and Luhansk regions are partially under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini expressed his concern about the situation in eastern Ukraine:

I am very concerned about the heavy fighting in Donbass and the difficult situation of civilians, Foreign Minister Timo Soini commented on Twitter yesterday

Finland supports the EU’s position and appeals for an immediate cessation of fighting.

The situation in the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine is dire. A state of emergency has been declared. Around 15,000 people are affected by the situation. The death toll by now stands at thirteen. Finland appeals to all parties, urging them to respect the ceasefire in order to avoid new fatalities. We also hope that the negotiations in the Minsk and Normandy formats would continue as soon as possible, says Päivi Peltokoski, Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Unit for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Around 10,000 people have died and about 23,000 people have been injured in the conflict in Ukraine to date.

Finland supports education and energy sectors

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko paid an official visit to Finland in January 2017. During the visit, Finland confirmed that it will continue to support Ukraine in various sectors.

The countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation. New projects are being planned for the education and energy sectors. In addition to a significant contribution to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Finland deploys advisers to the EU’s Advisory Mission in Ukraine (EUAM).  Finland’s most recent support was allocated to mine clearance.

Finland supports Ukraine’s efforts to build closer ties with the EU. We have supported the introduction of a visa free travel regime between Ukraine and the EU since the matter was first brought under discussion. Finland also ratified the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in the spring of 2015.

Finland considers that the European Union must keep the sanctions against Russia in place until the Minsk commitments are fulfilled. The Minsk Agreement includes, among other things, a permanent ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and all foreign armed formations, access of OSCE observers and humanitarian aid to the region, exchange of prisoners, constitutional reform in Ukraine (decentralisation), and local elections in Donbass. Finland supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and condemns the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia.

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Updated 2/2/2017

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