July 16, 2018 / 7:34 PM / 5 months ago

Russia might seek peacemaker role after World Cup, Helsinki summit - Finland

Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini listens to media after government's open session for members of public took place during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence in Porvoo, Finland May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Russia may try to carve out a peacemaker role for itself after successfully hosting the World Cup and following the summit in Helsinki between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Finland’s foreign minister said on Monday.

Some analysts in Finland have raised concern that, with the World Cup out of the way, Russia might embark on an unpredictable power play rather similar to its annexation of Crimea which came soon after it had held the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

“I think that after the World Cup and after this summit, there will be no such thing (like Crimea),” said Foreign Minister Timo Soini after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the margins of the summit.

“(Russia) might surprise in other way... because they have much more in hand to give up now than what they had back then. They might be a peacemaker in Ukraine, in Syria, in nuclear weapons.”

He said the Nordic EU member state was chosen as the summit venue partly because of its foreign policy line - backing the West but keeping up dialogue with Russia, its neighbour.

Trump told a news conference earlier on Monday that he had discussed a wide range of issues with Putin, including the war in Syria, Iran and nuclear arms control, and that the countries had now turned a corner for better on their relationship.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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