Putin says Finnish plan to join NATO is a mistake in call with leader
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, during the 2019 International Arctic Forum. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that Helsinki's moves towards joining NATO are a mistake and that Russia does not pose a threat to Finland, according to a Kremlin statement. Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/dpa

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö that Helsinki's moves towards joining NATO are a mistake and that Russia does not pose a threat to Finland, according to a Kremlin statement.

Finland's departure from its traditional neutrality would cause the two countries' good neighbourly relations to deteriorate, Putin said.

The Finnish president organized the call to explain why his country plans to join NATO, according to a statement from Helsinki.

"President Niinistö told President Putin how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland," the statement read.

"The conversation was open and direct, but was conducted without escalation. It was considered important to avoid tensions," Niinistö said, according to the Finnish presidential office website.