Russia and Finland have been able to overcome the influence of the EU’s destructive policy towards Russia on bilateral relations and achieve an increase in trade turnover, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday in the run-up to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Finland on May 4, where he will be meeting with Helsinki’s top diplomat Timo Soini and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Growth in trade turnover

“The two sides have been able to scale back the adverse impact on bilateral ties from the unfavorable political climate and the EU’s destructive policy towards Russia, which is even backed by Finland, by using decades of experience and a tradition of constructive and pragmatic interaction,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“The decrease in the trade turnover that had continued since 2014 (dropping 50% – from $18bln to $9bln – in 2016) came to a halt in the second half of last year,” the ministry added. “In January and February, the trade volume rose 58% (to $1.8 bln).”

Cooperation in investment remains stable. The volume of accumulated Finnish direct investment in Russia was $3.7 bln after Q3 2016, while the volume of Russian investment in Finland amounted to $2.7 bln. The largest Russian investment project in Finland is the construction of the Hanhikivi-1 Nuclear Power Plant with the participation of the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation valued at more than 5 billion euros.

Political dialogue

The political dialogue between Moscow and Helsinki is developing as well, both on a bilateral basis and at various international platforms, including the UN. “Russian-Finnish relations are in good shape,” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted. “Cooperation is based on a win-win relationship in the trade, economic and investment fields, close collaboration on the state border between the two countries, dynamic interregional and cross-border cooperation and direct contacts between people.”

On the other hand, the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed to some aspects of Finland’s foreign policy, including its relations with NATO and its stance on the conflict in southeastern Ukraine.

“The country [Finland] is one of NATO’s five most active partners (along with Australia, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden),” the Russian Foreign Ministry noted. “However, according to polls, only about a quarter of the population favors Finland’s accession to NATO, while about half of the population is opposed to the move. These figures have remained stable for more than ten years now.”

As for the conflict in the Donbass region, Finland adheres to the EU’s stance. “Helsinki believes the key condition for resolving the conflict is compliance with the Minsk agreements,” the ministry added.

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