Putin travels to Finland for talks amid naval exercises

Special to WorldTribune.com

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit neighboring Finland on July 27 on a one-day trip.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, will meet his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on July 27. / epa

Putin will hold talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and the two leaders will attend celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence from the Russian Empire.

Putin’s visit comes as Russia and China conduct week-long naval exercises in the Baltic Sea.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia, is not a member of NATO but has cooperated with the Western military alliance for years.

Finland has openly discussed the possibility of closer cooperation, or even outright membership, in the alliance, a possibility that has prompted thinly veiled threats from Moscow.

In October, Finland and the United States signed a defense cooperation pact on increased military collaboration after alleged violations of Finnish airspace by Russian fighter jets.

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