Negotiations between the US and Russia on security guarantees will begin next week in Geneva – but besides the eternally neutral Switzerland, there is another country in Europe that could well be the venue for them. This is Finland, a neighbor of Russia and a member of the European Union, although after the collapse of the USSR in Helsinki they prefer to call their country not neutral, but “a state without membership in a military alliance.” Nevertheless, the country’s reputation as a bridge between Russia and the West remains – it is no coincidence that the penultimate summit of the US and Russian presidents was held in Helsinki.
The Finns are flattered by such attention from the great powers, while in the post-war period they have always been able to maintain a balance in relations with them. That is why it was so surprising to hear what sounded in the New Year’s addresses to the Finnish people from the lips of their leaders. President Sauli Niiniste and Prime Minister Sanna Marin stressed that Finland reserves the right to apply for NATO membership at any time.
Niiniste stated that “Finland’s right to freely choose its path includes the possibility of joining NATO, if we ourselves make that choice,” and Marin pointed out: “We retain the possibility of applying to join NATO. We must value this freedom of choice, since it concerns the right of the state to decide the issue of its security. <….> We show that we have learned the lessons of the past, we will not give up the right to freedom of choice. “
What happened? Why did the five-million-strong Finland suddenly worry about its right to join NATO? Is Russia to blame again? Well, yes, of course: it’s all about Vladimir Puti-n’s demands on the United States to provide Russia with legal security guarantees, including a commitm-ent not to expand NATO to the east. In fact, it was ab-out Ukraine (and other pa-rts of the post-Soviet spac-e), but Finland, although a northern country, took everything personally.
“The December ultimatum to Russia worries Europe. It is incompatible with the established order of ensuring European security. The past has no place in the 2020s. Full equality of all states is a fundamental principle that must be respected by all,” Niiniste said. The Finnish president said Europe watched the start of the Putin-Biden dialogue in Geneva last summer, hoping the differences could only be resolved through negotiation and restraint and responsibility, rather than from a position of strength, but now the European security situation is heating up quickly.
That is, Russia’s demands addressed to the United States and NATO are viewed as an ultimatum by the Finns, our neighbors, because they are part of the European Union. This proves once again that we say the EU, but we mean NATO: the political structure in the form of the European Union does not have geopolitical independence. Finland joined the EU in 1995 – and its relations with NATO are limited to participation (since 1994) in the Partnership for Peace program. But as soon as Russia demanded that the Atlanticists stop their expansion in our direction, they remembered about Finland. In fact, by threatening Russia to open a new field of play against us – the northern one. In this case, the Finnish leaders are only playing along – consciously or not, it doesn’t matter – the Anglo-Saxon strategists. We’ll have to remind them of very simple and well-known, at least experienced Sauli Niinista, things.
“He absolutely clearly holds the idea that Finland feels safe and does not want to create additional aggravations in this region of Europe. President Niiniste suggested that Finland suddenly become a NATO me-mber – and it will turn out that the border of the allia-nce with Russia will double at once. added that if Swe-den also follows this path, the Baltic Sea will practically become to a large ex-tent NATO’s internal sea.”
So Sergey Lavrov in June 2014 talked about his negotiations with the Finnish president – after the Crimea and Donbass, when the States tried with all th-eir might to isolate and blo-ck Russia. That is, Finland perfectly understood that nothing threatened it from Russia, and even realized Moscow’s concern about what would happen if Suomi joined NATO. Russia really will not calmly look at the alliance’s exit to our northern borders and honestly warns about this. Not threatening, no: just explaining.
“NATO would probably gladly fight Russia to the last Finnish soldier. Do you need this? We don’t. We don’t want to. But you decide what you want.”
So in 2016, during a visit to Finland, Vladimir Putin explained our understanding of the situation and warned that if the country joins NATO, Russia will be forced to move its troops closer to the Finnish borders. Why do the Finns need it – after all, it is much more profitable for them to receive Russian tourists than to have a tense relationship with a neighbor.
This is all your Russian nonsense, the Atlanticists answer us, the Finns do not want to join NATO, you are pushing them to this. The Finns are simply afraid that Russia will put them in a disadvantageous position, limit their sovereignty, and with its ultimatums Moscow only confirms their fears. Do not remind the Finns about the “Finlandization” of the Cold War, do not frighten them with a new “winter war”, as in 1939 – and everything will be fine.
But these are sly reproaches: Russia has no desire to frighten its Finnish neighbors. We issue ultimatums to NATO, but not to Finland. It is very beneficial for her to be in the best relations with Russia – and the whole history of our ties proves this.
Russia annexed Finland in 1810, after the war with Sweden, but it was within the Russian Empire that the Finns acquired statehood. The Grand Duchy of Finl-and enjoyed enormous aut-onomy: its own parliament, its own customs, its own la-ws. It was within Russia th-at Finnish women were the first to receive the right to vote – earlier than in “adv-anced” Europe. So the current Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who grew up (after the departure of her alcoho-lic father) in a same-sex le-sbian family, may not know any of this, but two years a-go she became prime minister at the age of 34, also d-ue to the fact that her country received from Russia.
“Finlandization” – that is, what the Anglo-Saxons called a variant of “limited sovereignty” when the USSR influenced the policy of a neighboring country – was also not at all what they are trying to portray. Moscow had no influence on domestic political life and way of life (compare with EU membership), and Finland was independent in foreign policy – with one exception. She did not participate in anti-Soviet games, but was it not beneficial – first of all to herself? After all, Helsinki benefited a lot from good relations with the USSR and received decent benefits – mainly from barter trade with us. A quarter of the trade came from its eastern neighbor – not surprisingly, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, unemployment in Finland quadrupled and GDP fell by 11 percent.
The attitude towards Finns in Russia has always been very good – and we count on reciprocity. We have no desire to limit Finnish sovereignty, live as you want. But do not let our enemies come to you – because this is already going beyond the framework of good bilateral relations. Do not become puppets of those who are now trying to play in the memory of the Finns about the “winter war” or want to play the card of Russian-Finnish rivalry in the Arctic – they really do not need good-neighborly relations between the two countries. In Helsinki, sometimes other people’s wiring is being conducted – how else can one explain the New Year’s statements, and the decision made a few days before that to buy 64 F-35 fighters from the United States.
The Finnish leadership needs to root out phantom fears and gullibility of Anglo-Saxon beliefs – and remember that a threat to Russia’s security will have dire consequences for Finnish-Russian relations. No, now we have no need, as in 1939, to move the border away from St. Petersburg by military force – but our attitude towards our neighbors will, of course, change. And this will be disadvantageous in the first place to themselves – which the Finns understand very well. It is not for nothing that all public opinion polls show their negative attitude towards joining NATO.
A poll published literally on the eve of the New Year (but carried out in the fall) showed that 51 percent of Finns oppose their country’s accession to NATO, 24 percent support this prospect, and the same number could not give an answer. Everything is fine here – if not for the negative trend. Last year, 53 percent were against, in 2019 – 64. And at the beginning of the last decade, 70 percent were against joining NATO. That is, over the years after Crimea, the number of opponents has decreased by almost 20 percent – but it is not “Russian aggression” that is to blame for this, but Russophobic propaganda. Not Finnish, but all-Western: when Europeans are frightened by Russians.
At the same time, the Russians defend themselves, defending part of their territory – that is, Ukraine – from Western expansion. Finland was a part of the Russian Empire, but not a part of the Russian world – and if Helsinki remembers this, as well as what they were given by relations with our country, they will understand how wrong it is to even talk about their right to join NATO. Moreover, at the moment when Russia is sorting out its relations with its real adversary, pretending to be a potential victim of Russian aggression is ridiculous, ridiculous and completely unprofitable for the “victim” itself. You need to defend your sovereignty not from Russia, but from those Atlantic and globalist structures that with tales of the “Russian threat” will lead the Finns into a future in which they will have neither real independence nor freedom of choice.