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Former Finnish PM Predicts Western Sanctions On Russia Will Be 'As Big As They Can Be'

By RFE/RL's Georgian Service February 26, 2022

Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb says that the West's reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has been stronger than Putin likely expected beforehand.

"I think the sanctions are going to be pretty much as big as they can be at this stage," Stubb said in an interview with RFE/RL's Georgian Service. "We will see a second wave of sanctions, and then we're probably going to see a third wave of sanctions."

Calling the West's response a "silver lining" to the Ukraine crisis, Stubb added that Putin is getting "exactly the reaction he didn't want."

"Ukrainians are turning against Russia," he said. "Finns and Swedes are becoming more pro-NATO. I think potentially this could be the beginning of the end of Putin."

"This is going to lead to the isolation of Russia under Putin," Stubb said.

He added that the possible exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT international financial-transactions mechanism, which he called "the nuclear option," "needs to be on the table."

"I think we are, in sanctions terms, at the whatever-it-takes moment, and I believe we are going to see whatever it take," he said. "Everything is on the table."

Stubb served as Finland's prime minster in 2014-15. He has held an array of other senior posts in the Finnish government, including foreign minister and finance minister. He also served in the European Parliament from 2004 until 2008.

Asked about Putin and his motivations, Stubb said "we don't know what state [of mind] he is in at the moment, adding that the speech in which he announced the operation against Ukraine was "actually quite irrational, quite rambling."

"I think it's very difficult to say what the end game is going to be," Stubb said. "Certainly, you could contemplate a little bit on the motives that he has with the current attack. I think one of them, which people aren't talking about enough, is that he wants to avoid the Europeanization of Ukraine."

"It's sort of a 1989 moment, if you will," he added. "We know that he does want to reinstate this nostalgic, historic Russia from the 1800s or something that is similar to the Soviet Union."

Stubb noted that Russia used the territory of Belarus to launch its attack on Ukraine and that therefore "its absolutely clear that [Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka] needs to be held accountable as well.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/finland-stubb- sanctions-russia-war/31724950.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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