Finland Russia relations are in a crossroads. After 80 years, are the bad times coming again? Read about Finland Russia relations on Sigma Turkey.
This year people in Russia and Finland remember the 80th anniversary of the Winter War between their two countries. During this conflict, Finland lost the strategically and economically important territory of Karelian Isthmus. A hundred thousand people became refugees. But Red Army also paid a heavy price for its victory.
Among the many reasons for this war, one of most important was a simple border dispute. Before 1939, Finnish positions were located just 40 km from Leningrad – one of the most important economic, political and cultural centers of the USSR. The relationship between Finland and Soviet Union during this period was full of hate and suspicion. But for Soviet leadership, the main treat was not the possibility of a Finnish attack. They were worried that hostile European powers (Great Britain or Germany) would use the Finnish territory for aggression against the Soviet Union. In 1919 during the Russian Civil War, the British navy and Air Force had already used the Finnish town of Terioky as a base for attack on Kronstadt and the Soviets didn’t forget this experience 20 years later.
The period between WWII and the collapse of Soviet Union became a sort of “Golden Age” for Russian-Finnish relations. Politicians in Helsinki had learned their lesson from the two defeats in 1939-1940 and 1941-1944, and started to build a political partnership with Moscow. For Russia, Finland became a “gate to the West” while for Finland, the Soviet Union became a huge market for Finnish goods that would create the basis for Finland’s post-war prosperity.
The collapse of the Soviet Union hurt Finnish economy. It was not before the beginning of the 2000s that the market of this Scandinavian country finally arrived at a period of recovery, but the relations between Russia and Finland were not same. In this period, Helsinki started to orientate its politics and economy towards Brussels and the European Union rather than the weak and unpredictable Moscow. The next breaking point was the Ukrainian conflict of 2014. Discussions about the Russian threat became one of the top issues in Finnish media. Right wing politicians brought up discussions about joining the traditional neutral Finland with NATO.
Since 2016, on there have been regular military training of NATO and American troops inside Finland territory. For example, in the spring of 2019, American Air Force held a massive aerial exercise in Finland, close to the Russian border. Permanent militarization of the Baltic sea and regular maneuvers by NATO as well as Russian forces are pushing this former peaceful region to an almost second Persian Gulf. NATO and American infiltration into Finland have returned the situation back to 1920-1930 period with border tensions between Finland and USSR.
Today Moscow doesn’t want an escalation in its relation to Finland, but American presence near St-Petersburg certainly cannot making the Russian leadership happy. American and NATO forces may also form a threat against Russian plans for gas and oil pumps in the Baltic sea and Finnish Gulf.
80 years after the Winter War, the atmosphere in North seems to be frozen again.