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Trump sidesteps question about Russia and Finland

Trump sidesteps question about Russia and Finland
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President Trump on Monday sidestepped a question on what type of assistance the United States would provide to Finland in the event of diplomatic breakdown between the Nordic country and Russia.

“We’re always ready to help Finland,” Trump replied, when asked by a Finnish reporter about what kind of assistance the U.S. would be willing to give to the non-NATO ally bilaterally.

Trump instead touted U.S. military jets and equipment that Finland has already purchased. 

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“One of the things that is happening is you’re purchasing large amounts of our F-18 aircraft from Boeing. It’s one of the great planes, one of the great fighter jets and you’re purchasing lots of other military equipment and I think purchasing very wisely,” Trump said.

Finland has a fleet of roughly 60 Boeing-made F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, but in late 2015 sought to replace the aircraft. Five companies, including U.S. defense firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are in the running for the new contract, to come in 2021.

Trump continued, “I know all of the military equipment and I actually agree with everything you’ve purchased. We’ve talked about it. I think Finland’s really a respected country militarily. It’s got large armed forces for its size as a country.”

“Hopefully it’ll never come to that,” Trump added, likely in reference to any potential conflict between Finland and Russia, which share an 830-mile border.

The exchange took place during a joint press briefing with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Trump. The press conference followed a bilateral meeting between the two leaders in Washington.