Putin lambasts Finnish leader for barring sanctioned Russian officials

Sauli NiinistoRussian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ticked off his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto over Helsinki’s barring of officials on a European Union sanctions list over Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

Finland earlier this month blocked six Russian lawmakers — including the speaker of parliament’s lower house — from entering the country to attend an Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) meeting.

Moscow reacted angrily, arguing that the officials — all on an EU sanctions list for their support of Russia’s actions in Ukraine — were attending an international conference.

“The Russian President pointed to the legal incorrectness of a decision taken under pressure from some members of the European Union,” the Kremlin said in a statement after the two leader held phone talks.

Despite this, “the certainty was expressed that Russia and Finland will manage through their joint efforts to maintain the good neighbourly and friendly character” of their relationship, it said.

Russia is locked in its deepest standoff with the West since the end of the Cold War over Moscow’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine and alleged fuelling of a separatist conflict.

The EU and US have slapped sanctions on scores of Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians and targeted whole sectors of the country’s economy.

The OSCE’s parliamentary assembly meeting in Finland eventually passed a resolution condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, further isolating Moscow in an organisation created to facilitate dialogue between eastern and western Europe.

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