In a recent interview with a Finnish newspaper IS.fi, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö made headlines with his firm stance on the nuclear weapons debate, diverging sharply from the views of Alexander Stubb, a fellow politician and presidential candidate. Niinistö’s comments come at a time when the topic of nuclear armament is increasingly contentious, not just within Finland but across the globe.
During the state opening of Parliament, when asked about the possibility of revisiting the nuclear energy law and the notion of Finland harboring nuclear weapons, President Niinistö responded emphatically. “I have sometimes noted that Finland has no need to open a discussion on nuclear weapons,” he stated, underscoring his position with a clarity that left little room for ambiguity.
Niinistö further elaborated, “The fact is that NATO only keeps nuclear weapons in a few places in Europe, and none of them are particularly close to Finland. But another fact is that the nuclear deterrent is realized through many different means, including submarines, among others. As far as I understand, it’s already quite well established.”
This perspective starkly contrasts with that of Alexander Stubb, a candidate from the National Coalition Party, who has expressed a more open stance towards the theoretical presence of nuclear weapons in Finland. In a presidential debate, Pekka Haavisto of the Green League challenged Stubb on this issue, arguing that storing nuclear weapons in Finland poses a risk. Stubb countered, emphasizing the theoretical nature of the discussion rather than any concrete plans to store or maintain nuclear weapons in Finland. “It’s not about storing or keeping nuclear weapons but being able to participate in exercises and planning,” Stubb explained, suggesting that the mere possibility could serve as a deterrent.
Stubb’s comments reflect a nuanced position, where he sees the debate on nuclear weapons as more about theoretical preparedness than actual deployment. He even mentioned sleeping more soundly if Vladimir Putin were unaware of Finland’s nuclear capabilities, a statement that highlights the psychological and strategic dimensions of nuclear deterrence.
The current Finnish law prohibits the introduction of nuclear explosives into the country, a regulation Stubb believes should be reconsidered. “Sometimes, a nuclear weapon is a guarantee of peace,” he stated, a viewpoint that introduces a controversial perspective into Finnish and international discourse on nuclear armament.
President Niinistö also addressed, as published in IS.fi concerns about the situation along Finland’s eastern border and the potential threats from Putin and Russia. He emphasized the importance of being prepared for all possibilities, a stance he has maintained throughout his tenure. “All these years, I have tried several times to emphasize that we must be ready for anything. Especially now, that holds true. We should not start from probabilities but rather scope out even the unpleasant possibilities that come to mind. And how we respond to them,” Niinistö remarked, reflecting a cautious yet proactive approach to national and international security.
Niinistö’s comments have ignited a global conversation on the role of nuclear weapons in modern geopolitics, particularly in countries like Finland, which finds itself at the crossroads of East and West. His firm rejection of nuclear armament, juxtaposed with Stubb’s more open stance, underscores the complex and often divisive nature of nuclear debate—a debate that resonates far beyond Finland’s borders, challenging the international community to reconsider the principles of peace, security, and deterrence in the nuclear age.