Sanna Marin: Ukraine war shows Europe 'not strong enough' and still needs US defence help

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By David Mac Dougall
The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the grounds of Government House in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.
The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the grounds of Government House in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mark Baker

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin has warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine would empower other aggressors; cautioned that Europe is too reliant on the US for security; and urged democracies against forming "critical dependencies" on authoritarian states like China. 

Marin made the comments in a speech at a think tank in Sydney on Friday, at the end of the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to Australia and New Zealand.

She also used the speech to urge democracies to ramp up sanctions against Russia.

"Make no mistake, if Russia wins its terrible gamble, it will not be the only one to feel empowered," Marin told the Lowy Institute.

"Others will also be tempted by the same dark agenda," she added.

A free trade agreement being finalised between the European Union, which includes Finland, and Australia was an opportunity to develop resilient supply chains, she said.

"We have become far too dependent on cooperation with regimes that do not share our common values," Marin said, using Finland's reliance on Russian energy as an example.

"Our dependencies are becoming our weaknesses faster and in more important areas of our societies than we would like to happen," she added.

She described trade with China as a "reality."

"We all have worries when it comes to China and we must make sure that we don't have that kind of critical dependencies when it comes to China," Marin said.

"We cannot be dependent, for example, on microchips or semiconductors or any kind of critical technologies when it comes to authoritarian countries. Because if those trading routes would be cut suddenly, then we would be in trouble," she added.

Marin, who faces an uphill reelection battle in April, advocated boosting Europe's defence capabilities, including arms production.

"I must be brutally honest with you, Europe isn't strong enough right now. We would be in trouble without the United States," she said. 

Marin added that she had spoken with a number of US politicians who said they think Europe should be stronger in terms of military capabilities.

"The United States has given a lot of weapons, a lot of financial aid, a lot of humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Europe isn't strong enough yet," Marin said.

"We have to make sure that we are building those capabilities when it comes to European defence, European defence industry."

Mark Baker/AP
The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shake hands at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.Mark Baker/AP

Later on Friday, Marin met with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at his official Sydney residence.

The pair released a joint statement saying their talks "underlined the need to work together in strengthening their resilience as open and democratic societies and in fostering sustainable development."

The prime ministers "agreed that managing complex supply chains, energy sources and investing in trustworthy critical and emerging technologies was needed to promote economic, political, social and environmental stability as well as human rights," the statement said.

Australia, which is the most generous donor to Ukraine's war effort outside NATO, and Finland, a country that is soon to become a NATO member and shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Russia, demanded in the statement Moscow immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine.