Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to travel to neighbouring Finland Friday for a one-day working visit and talks with his Finnish counterpart.
The visit is Putin's first to Finland since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014. The takeover along with Moscow's support of separatists in eastern Ukraine have strained ties with the West, and triggered sanctions.
Talks between Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto were expected to centre on current international issues, such as the Ukrainian crisis, the situation in Syria and the Middle East, and bilateral ties.
The British vote to leave the European Union and next week's NATO summit in Poland were other likely topics. Niinisto is due to attend the Warsaw parley.
Finland, like its neighbour Sweden, has since 1994 cooperated with NATO within the Partnership for Peace (PFP) framework and participated in NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.
Russia has in recent years stepped up its military flights and other activity in the Baltic Sea region, and contributed to a debate in both Finland and Sweden whether they should consider applying for NATO membership.
Niinisto visited Moscow in March.
Friday's meeting takes place at the Finnish president's summer residence in Naantali on the south-western coast of Finland.
Friday, July 1, 2016 - 20:01