What the West Fears About Russia, Finland Continues to Embrace

Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine continues into year two at a slugfest that is slowly favoring the Russian Federation. Due to political turmoil in the United States and several Western countries, military aid is gradually trickling into Ukraine, which Russia is taking advantage of.

Finland, which borders Russia, remains undeterred in supporting Ukraine both militarily and politically. Helsinki recently sent its 22nd aid package to Ukraine, continuing to enhance relations with fellow NATO members.

Where some countries in the West continue to lag due to internal politics, Finland continues to be the example of a steadfast allow of Ukraine.

Finnish-Russian Relations

Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine ruined the good relations with the West post-Soviet collapse, but Finland and Eastern Europe remained skeptical. Helsinki pushed for its independence from the collapsing Russian Empire that annexed the modern Finnish state from the Swedish Empire in 1809.

The Soviet Union, the successor of the Russian Empire, would quickly set their sights on bringing an independent Finland into the communist fold. The Soviets provided support to the communist factions of the Finnish Civil War, to little success, as the white faction prevailed.

When Josef Stalin became the Soviet premier, he would try to force unfair terms upon Finland, leading to the USSR’s casus belli in the Winter War. Despite losing upwards of 160,000 troops with 380,000 casualties against a much smaller and lesser equipped Finland, the Soviets could take 20% of Finnish territory.

In the aftermath of the Winter War, Finland would attempt to regain lost territory annexed by the Soviets in the Continuation War. In the Continuation War, the Finnish army was able to inflict over 250,000 Red Army deaths with over 900,000 casualties.

Pre-NATO, Finland Prepared Contingencies

Despite the heavy casualties inflicted on the Soviets in both wars, Finland ultimately lost both times. Due to not having solid political support in the West, the Fins remained neutral for the next several decades.

Nevertheless, the Finnish never let their guard down towards their Eastern neighbor and continued to bolster the country through economic, social, diplomatic, and defensive capabilities.

During the post-Soviet collapse, Finland became one of the top economies in Europe, with a high quality of life and standard of living and one of the world’s strongest passports. Helsinki enacted conscription, ensuring every male in the country would become militarily proficient in any scenario that would ensue towards the East.

Ultimately, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the full-scale war of 2022 changed the political landscape in Helsinki in lieu of neutrality.

The One Country Free of Russian Information Warfare and Interference

The Kremlin has spent billions of dollars in informational and hybrid warfare across the West to help install pro-Russian parties, particularly in Europe. Fidesz in Hungary, Smer in Slovakia, and the rising AfD in Germany are prime examples of the effectiveness of Russian informational tactics.

Despite numerous parties that have differences in governance, Finland continues to work in tandem in not only preparing the country against Russian threats but also bolstering fellow European states.

In the run-off in Finland’s recent presidential elections, both candidates expressed willingness to host NATO bases and potentially missiles if Russia were to attack the country again.

Putin’s Fears About Ukraine are Now Realized in Finland

One of Putin’s casus belli to invade Ukraine was the unfound claims that NATO would’ve used Kyiv as a launching ground for military bases and missiles. Another unfound claim on Ukraine to invade was that “Ukraine was about to join NATO.”

In reality, France and Germany already vetoed Ukraine’s membership in 2008, and Ukrainian opinions on the defensive alliance weren’t popular until the Russian invasions of 2014 and 2022.

Instead, with Finland’s ratification in NATO, the country is near Saint Petersburg and is finalizing plans to host shared American military bases. Finland’s membership also solidifies NATO’s most extensive border with the Russian Federation, with over 1,340 KM shared.

Finland currently has Europe’s largest reserve army and Western Europe’s most extensive artillery stocks. Equipped with F-35s, F-16s, and a new Joint Nordic Air Command, Helsinki blocks Russia’s freedom of movement along the Northern flank.

Various NATO members will be helping Ukraine to build new drones, which are becoming a significant obstacle in Russia’s war efforts, and Finland will most likely be one of them.

Despite its small and older population, Finland continues to be the Western nation that exemplifies the ‘peace through strength doctrine.’ While some countries fear escalation with Russia, the Finnish government knows complacency and appeasement will only lead to more aggression from Moscow, and the former continues to make contingency if conflict were to come again.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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