Finnish President: Putin Is Clearly Making a Nuclear Threat

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö has known Putin for a decade and often acts as a de facto interpreter, explaining the Russian president’s thinking to Western allies – and vice versa. Niinistö is among a handful of world leaders who continue to contact the Russian president, trying to put a stop to the war. Christiane speaks with Niinistö in London to get a sense of Putin’s endgame.

Read Transcript EXPAND

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, when you ask him, Mr. President, you have said all sorts of things about putting your deterrent forces on combat alert. You have said that the — anybody who dares to interfere with your project will face consequences the likes of which we have never seen in history.


AMANPOUR: I mean, that is a nuclear threat, isn’t it?

NIINISTO: It is. It is something like that. That reminds me of Dr. Kissinger. He has once said that, whenever peace is under discussion with international actors, they are on the mercy of the most ruthless.

AMANPOUR: And in this case?

NIINISTO: Seems to be the case.

AMANPOUR: Putin is the most ruthless?


AMANPOUR: Do you believe…

NIINISTO: By indicating that there will be a huge mess.

AMANPOUR: Well, it’s more than a mess. It’s existential disaster.

NIINISTO: More than a mess. Disaster.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe, and have you asked him, whether he would take that ultimate escalatory step?

NIINISTO: He only repeated that terrible things will happen.

AMANPOUR: So, you directly asked him?

NIINISTO: Yes, I told him that, don’t you see that the pressure from ordinary people, close all the time? It’s not only anymore that the Russian reputation is gone, but now they are even more worried what happens with those people being killed. And don’t you see that? Well, then he said that, if NATO countries take action, some terrible things will happen.

AMANPOUR: Are you scared?

NIINISTO: No, I’m not scared. And Finns are not scared. But, surely, we are full awake.

AMANPOUR: Fully awake.


About This Episode EXPAND

To discuss the dire humanitarian situation, Christiane speaks with the U.N.’s emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths. Christiane speaks with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö to get a sense of Putin’s endgame. David Scheffer was the first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. He evaluates the chances of convicting Putin and his henchmen.