Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has used a speech in Sydney to warn that democracies must build “common lifelines” to wean themselves off critical technologies and energy from authoritarian states like Russia and China.
- Sanna Marin has been a vocal critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rallying Western countries to enact sanctions
- Ms Marin says the war has exposed Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and other technologies
- She says democracies must work together to expand Europe’s defence capacity
Finland made the historic decision to apply for NATO membership in May this year in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Ms Marin has been one of Europe’s most powerful advocates for the West to ramp up efforts to financially cripple Russia.
Ms Marin praised Australia’s military equipment contributions to Ukraine, and said it was critical that the war was settled on Ukraine’s terms.
“Make no mistake, if Russia wins its terrible gamble, it will not be the only one to feel empowered,” she told the Lowy Institute.
“Others will be tempted by the same dark agenda.”
The Prime Minister also warned that the war in Ukraine had exposed just how reliant Europe remained on Russian gas.
More broadly, she said that democracies in North America, Europe and Asia needed to realise they were still dangerously dependent on authoritarian nations such as Russia and China for a range of critical goods.
“We need to draw the right lessons from the recent global challenges, wars and crises,” she said.
“In increasingly critical areas, from medical equipment to new technologies and energy, we have become far too dependent on cooperation with regimes which do not share our common values.”
Those “dependencies” were “becoming weaknesses faster and in more important areas of our societies, than we would like,” she told the institute.
And she said that meant democracies needed to develop more “strategic autonomy” and the capacity to obtain critical goods like semi-conductors and telecommunications equipment without relying on China.
“As digitalisation becomes more and more important … we must be able to trust technology. Our common lifelines have to be based on solid cooperation in science research and innovation as well,” she said.
Ms Marin said the EU and Australia should develop new dialogue on critical technology to help encourage innovation, while “building bridges across the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific”.
‘Europe is not strong enough’
Ms Marin also said that while China had real leverage over Russia, the West should not have to rely on it to stop the war in Ukraine, and Moscow’s invasion had exposed Europe’s military weakness.
“I think China could play an important role to stop the war, if they wanted. It’s up to China how they want to act concerning the war,” she said.
“But we shouldn’t only rely on that, on China or any others … we should make sure we are stronger.”
She said her “brutally honest” assessment was that “Europe is not strong enough right now.”
“We would be in trouble without the United States involving [itself] in the war of Ukraine,” she said.
“The US has given a lot of weapons, a lot of financial aid, and a lot of humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
“Europe isn’t strong enough yet. We have to make sure we are also building those capabilities when it comes to European defence and the European defence industry.”