Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 156

Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on August 22 launched two days of talks with his Finnish counterpart, Paavo Lipponen. The two men met first in the Karelian city of Petrozavodsk, where they discussed a wide range of issues, including the preservation of forests along their mutual border, a proposed joint automobile production plant, and a series of energy and trade issues. The two sides reportedly made some progress in talks on the construction of oil and gas pipelines that would travel from Russia through Finland. One Russian source claimed that Russian specialists will take part in the construction of a nuclear power station in Finland and that Finland will continue to buy Russian military technology, but few details were available (NTV, Itar-Tass, August 22)

Later in the day the two men traveled to the Russian city of Kostomuksha, also in Karelia, where, on August 23, they attended the opening of a highway border crossing post. A Russian official described the post as a state-of-the-art facility that would help resolve traffic tie-ups at the border and that would greatly increase the amount of cargo passing between the two countries.

In their talks on August on 23 Chernomyrdin and Lipponen also turned to political issues. Chernomyrdin thanked the Finnish government for its help in Russia’s effort to win admission to the European Union. He also expressed Moscow’s concern over the status of Russian-speakers in the three former Soviet Baltic states and — in yet another reflection of Moscow’s opposition to NATO enlargement — praised Finland for remaining outside the Western alliance. (Itar-Tass, August 23)

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