Yle: Finnish parliament foreign committee member resigns over Ukraine tweet

The chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Eduskunta, the Finnish parliament, is resigning his committee post in the wake of a tweet he issued on any potential Ukrainian membership of NATO.

The MP, Mika Niikko (Finns), made the announcement Wednesday, public broadcaster Yle reports on its English-language portal's website. He will remain a sitting MP.

Niikko sent his now-deleted tweet on Tuesday, later saying that it had been "carelessly worded"."

The tweet suggested either French President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Moscow Monday for a lengthy summit with Vladimir Putin, or someone else, should state publicly that Ukraine would not join NATO, in order for the meeting to be viewed as a success.

"It goes without saying that I am defending Ukraine's sovereignty and Finland's foreign policy," Niikko added, according to Yle.

The tweet appeared to contradict Finland's foreign policy positions.

Finland is not a NATO member.

The Finns Party group is expected to vote on a replacement on Thursday, Yle reports.

French daily Le Figaro (link in French) reported earlier in the week that the French president had confided with several journalists while flying to Moscow, to the effect that the "Finlandization" of Ukraine would be raised at his meeting with Putin.

One Estonian expert said that this option would be wholly incompatible with a stance of Ukraine being fully sovereign in deciding for herself which international organizations show would like to belong to and what her fundamental security policy structure would look like, and would represent a climb-down from the official NATO stance that it is up to Ukraine which international organizations to belong to.

Russia has demanded Ukraine not ever join NATO, and also that the alliance's borders be wound back to the situation as of 1997. Estonia joined NATO in 2004.

Tensions have been high since late last year as around 100,000 Russian military personnel amassed on its borders with Ukraine, while that number has been climbing since the new year, according to some reports. Macron himself puts the figure at 125,000.

Meanwhile, Belgian MEP and former Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE) chair Guy Verhofstadt has cast the issue in an EU light, rather than a NATO one.

Verhofstadt tweeted on Wednesday morning that: "Europeans see the Ukraine crisis as a problem for European security, and they want the EU to respond to the crisis."

"This is why the efforts of President Macron, to come forward with a specific European approach & strategy, matter," Verhofstadt continued.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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