President Joe Biden has reaffirmed transatlantic unity and American reaffirmation of NATO commitments to Finland, despite warnings this week that U.S. political divisions might one day undermine such mutual obligations.
Speaking at a joint press conference today in Helsinki alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Biden declared “We will stand together.”
“This is the best bet anyone can make. The United States is committed to Finland, committed to NATO and those commitments are rock solid. We will protect every inch of NATO territory, and that includes Finland, obviously.”
The assurance came after a reporter from Finland’s public broadcaster YLE had asked Biden what he would do to prevent a future U.S. president from withdrawing from NATO without the consent of Congress.
Biden had referenced the ongoing war in Ukraine, and Finland’s quick admission into the alliance after that conflict began, and spoke of a sense of fatalism about the future of geopolitics when he quipped, “you can’t tell me whether you’re going to be able to go home tonight.”
“No one can be sure what they’re going to do," he told Lida Tikka, the D.C. correspondent of Finnish public broadcaster YLE.
"'Let me be clear, I didn't say we didn't ...we couldn't guarantee the future. I'm saying as sure as anything could possibly be said about American foreign policy, we will stay connected to NATO, connected to NATO beginning middle and end. We're a transatlantic partnership,” Biden added.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto then noted, “It seems the President has solved your problems,” adding, “I have no reason to doubt about USA policies in the future.”
The press conference was held in the presidential palace where former President Donald Trump appeared to side with Vladimir Putin in 2018 and accepted assurances from the Russian leader that he hadn't interfered in the 2016 elections.
Later, Biden expressed “unwavering support” to the “brave people of Ukraine,” as he had just come from a NATO summit in Vilnius where Ukraine got new assurances about joining NATO but not the timeline for getting invited that President Volodymyr Zelensky had sought.
Biden had to ask for a question to be repeated, and the same mistake that had made after he accidentally referred to the head of Ireland instead of the head of Iceland. He had jokingly made reference to his recent trip to Ireland, which had ancestral roots for him.
When a U.S. questioner asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden revealed that the U.S. does not know with certainty the location of mutineer Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner private military boss who led a column toward Moscow only to make a deal and back off.
Not mincing words, Biden revealed that “God only knows what he’s likely to do. We’re not even sure where he is and what relationship he has.”
On fears a weakened Putin could lash out with nuclear weapons, Biden said, “I don’t think there’s any real prospect. You never know of Putin using nuclear weapons.”
Putin was indirectly referred to as ‘our neighbor’ by the Finnish President and as ‘the gentleman who occupies a seat the other side of the border in Moscow,’ by Biden.
On Russian interference in U.S. elections, Biden said, “They’re already interfering. That would not be anything new.”
In a blunt assessment of how long it might take to put an end to the conflict in Ukraine, Biden declared, “Putin’s already lost the war. There is no possibility of him winning.” His bookmarked his remark with, “But I can’t predict exactly how that happens.”
This then brings to mind the fateful moment when President Trump had accepted assurances from the Russian leader that he hadn't interfered in the 2016 elections, in the very same room- a mistake for which Biden makes sure will not be repeated.