Finlandization of Ukraine has become a fashionable idea of ​​pro-government political scientists

Taming the Shrews

“Our patience has come to an end… We have been harnessing for a very long time, now it is time for us to go…” Incendiary speeches by Russian officials on the topic of relations with the West leaves no doubt as to the determination of our leadership. But, alas, they do not give any clues as to where we, harnessed, will rush. Fortunately, the statements of experts close to the authorities provide somewhat more food for thought on this matter. In this environment, the word “Finlandization” is increasingly heard.

Signing of an armistice agreement between the USSR and Finland, September 19, 1944. Photo:

“When it comes to countries, the Alliance (NATO. — A.K.) not included, but behaving as if this omission is about to be corrected, the risk of a violent clash is growing, – Fyodor Lukyanov, scientific director of the Valdai Club, head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, editor-in-chief, is worried magazine “Russia in Global Affairs”. — NATO expansion has shaped the military-political landscape in which we now live. The preservation of such a perspective is fraught with aggravation, while the refusal requires a radical revision of the system of ideas, revision and approval of the system of “red lines”. For example, the return to the concept of “Finlandization” of the positive meaning that it had during the years of the Cold War.

Some authors express themselves even more specifically, speaking about the need for the Finlandization of Ukraine, there was also such a wording – “Ukraina's anti-Russian project”. And some bluntly argue that Finlandization is the only way for Ukraine to avoid war.

Let us dare, however, slightly correct the respected expert: the concept of “Finlandization” did not have a positive connotation even in the era of the Cold War. The term was born at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s in Western Germany, among the local conservatives, and expressed their dissatisfaction with the so-called new Eastern policy of the Social Democrat Chancellor Willy Brandt, aimed at improving relations with the USSR and its Eastern European allies.

According to modern political vocabulary, Finlandization is the subordination of a country's policy to that of a larger neighboring country while nominally retaining sovereignty. As you might guess, the term refers to the special relationship between the Soviet Union and Finland, which was then, as they say, the talk of the town.

In the USSR, they were called friendly and advertised as an example of good neighborliness and equal mutually beneficial cooperation between states with different social systems. Geopolitical opponents, however, called Finland nothing more than a Soviet vassal.

“It was impossible to do without war”

The latter assessment is supported by the fact that such a model of relations with a powerful eastern neighbor was not the choice of Finland itself. Well, more precisely, the choice, in fairness, was. But very poor – the only alternative was the complete loss of sovereignty. Before this existential choice arose, Finland stubbornly refused to be “friends” with the USSR.

The operation to enforce friendship began in the late 1930s. Incidentally, one cannot fail to see a certain similarity with the events of the current crisis in the way the Finnish question was resolved. Well, at least as far as the initial phase is concerned. As then, it all began with the concerns expressed by the leadership of our country in the field of security. And, as then, they first wanted to solve the issue “in an amicable way.”

“In connection with the growing threat of the imperialist powers using the territory of Finland for aggression against the USSR, the Soviet government proposed to the government of Finland in the spring of 1938 to conclude a mutual assistance agreement,” reports the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. However, the Finnish government rejected this proposal. It also refused to participate in the collective security system.”

After that, there were several more unsuccessful attempts to induce the Finns to meet Soviet concerns. After that, the Memorandum of the USSR government to the government of Finland of October 14, 1939 appeared, which many participants in the events – including, for example, Nikita Khrushchev – directly called an ultimatum.

“The main concern of the Soviet Union in negotiations with the Finnish government is two points: a) ensuring the security of the city of Leningrad, b) confidence that Finland will stand firmly on the basis of friendly relations with the Soviet Union,” the document stated.

The Soviet government demanded from Finland to transfer to the USSR: 1) part of the Karelian Isthmus; 2) six islands in the Gulf of Finland; 3) the western part of the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas (the coast of the Barents Sea; 4) to lease the port of Hanko and the area around it for 30 years “for the construction of a naval base.”

The total area of ​​the territory to which the claims of the Soviet Union extended was – not counting the Hanko Peninsula – 2761 square kilometers. As compensation, twice as large, but strategically and economically much less significant territory in a sparsely populated part of Karelia was offered.

The Finns again refused. The TSB describes further events as follows: “Counting on the help of the Western powers, the Finnish military on November 26 embarked on the path of armed provocations on the border … In response to this, the troops of the Leningrad Military District on the morning of November 30, with the support of the Northern and Baltic fleets, launched an offensive on the front from Barents Sea to the Gulf of Finland. It was a forced step on the part of the Soviet Union.”

For reference: on November 26, 1939, the so-called Mainil incident took place. “Our troops stationed on the Karelian Isthmus near the Finnish border, near the village of Mainila, were unexpectedly fired upon from Finnish territory with artillery fire,” read a note from the USSR government handed to the Finnish ambassador. “In total, seven gunshots were fired, as a result of which three privates and one junior commander were killed, seven privates and two from the command staff were wounded.”

According to Helsinki, the Soviet troops fired on themselves: it was a provocation staged by Stalin in order to get a pretext for starting a war. And most modern historians agree with this interpretation. In principle, this version is confirmed by the words of Stalin himself. Well, indirectly, of course. In his speech to the commanding staff of the Red Army, on April 17, 1940, that is, a month after the end of hostilities, speaking about the causes of the war, the leader of the peoples did not say a word about the “impudent provocations of the Finnish military”, as they wrote then in the Soviet press.

As Comrade Stalin put it, the reasons were as follows: “Was it not possible to do without war? It seems to me that it was impossible. It was impossible to do without a war … It is clear that since the peace negotiations with Finland did not lead to results, it was necessary to declare war … It would be great stupidity, political myopia to miss the moment and not try as soon as possible, while the war is going on in the West, raise and resolve the issue of the security of Leningrad.”

In the same speech, Comrade Stalin criticized the enemy army for its passivity and insufficient technical equipment: “As for any serious offensive to break through our front, to occupy any line, you will not see a single such fact. The Finnish army is not capable of great offensive actions … An army that has been educated not for the offensive, but for passive defense; an army that does not have serious artillery; an army that does not have serious aviation… I can’t call such an army an army.”

This characteristic also does not fit well with the image of the brutalized and heavily armed “White Finns” who attacked the peace-loving Soviet state.

However, a little over a year later, the Finnish army proved to the leader of the peoples that he was not quite right in his assessment: in June 1941, a new Soviet-Finnish war began, called in Finland a continuation war, which the country is waging in alliance with Nazi Germany. And this time, the defending side is the USSR.

The offensive of the Red Army in Karelia, December 1939. Photo: ru.wikipedia. org

“They made the mistake of not being occupied”

However, like last time, the Soviet Union began hostilities: at dawn on June 25, 1941, Soviet aviation subjected the cities of Helsinki, Turku, Salo, Kotka to a massive bombardment, warships and naval bases, military airfields of the Finns (according to the Soviet side , German aircraft were based on them), a number of railway stations.

On the same day, June 25, the Finnish parliament decided to consider the country at war with the USSR. “The Soviet leadership gave the Finnish supporters of the “revenge war” a gift that they did not even dare to dream of,” writes in his book “June 25. Stupidity or aggression? famous Russian historian Mark Solonin.

“Now that the Soviet Union, in connection with the war between Germany and the USSR, has extended its military operations to the territory of Finland, attacking civilians, it is our duty to defend ourselves,” President Risto Ryti said in his radio address to the nation. “Our ability to successfully exit this second defensive war this time is completely different than it was last time …”

The first stage of the continuation war seemed to fully justify the hopes of the Finnish leadership: within two months the Finns recaptured almost all the territories lost as a result of the Winter War of 1939–1940. And they went even further – they captured most of the Soviet Karelia. Moreover, the occupation was by no means velvet: the unrelated, that is, mostly Russian, population of the occupied territories was driven into concentration camps.

But with regard to the plans of conquest, the Finns showed caution: having declared the goals of the war achieved, no matter how hard Hitler persuaded them, they did not go further. In particular, they flatly refused to participate in the storming of Leningrad. This, of course, was credited to Finland, when a turning point occurred in the war and the fate of the country was again in the hands of Moscow. But, as in the case of the Winter War, considerations of big geopolitics turned out to be decisive.

Then, in 1940, the Soviet Union abandoned the complete conquest of Finland, faced with the prospect of a military clash with England and France. Approximately the same reasons, unwillingness to spoil relations with the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, the Soviet leaders were guided four years later, when deciding to spare Finland, not to annex and not to Sovietize it. What, however, Comrade Stalin, according to eyewitnesses, subsequently greatly regretted and dreamed of replaying everything.

“To my left was the silent Molotov, and to my right the verbose Zhdanov,” recalled the Yugoslav politician Milovan Djilas in his famous Conversations with Stalin. — The latter talked about his contacts with the Finns (in 1944-1947 Andrey Zhdanov headed the Allied Control Commission in Finland. — А.К.) and spoke with respect about their accuracy in delivering reparations:

– All right on time, beautifully packaged and of excellent quality.

He finished: – We made a mistake not to occupy them – it would be over now if we did.


“Yes, it was a mistake – we looked too much at the Americans, and they wouldn’t lift a finger.”

However, Stalin's ally Vyacheslav Molotov (from 1939 to 1949 he served as head of the Soviet foreign policy department) believed that everything was done right. “Finland was spared how! – the writer Felix Chuev, who knew him well, conveys the words of Molotov (the conversation took place when Molotov had long since left the corridors of power). – It was smart that they did not attach to themselves. They would have had a permanent wound… After all, people there are very stubborn, very stubborn.”

However, the regime established in Finland after the armistice agreement was signed on September 19, 1944, did not differ so much from the occupation one. Especially at first. In essence, it was “occupation light”.

The concluded peace was, firstly, with annexations and indemnities. Under the terms of the agreement, Finland, in addition to the territorial losses suffered as a result of the war of 1939-1940, lost the nickel-rich region of Petsamo and had to pay the USSR monetary compensation in the amount of 300 million dollars. At the time, it was a huge amount. It had to be repaid within six years in goods. Then this period was extended to eight years.

“If you link together all the trains that transported to our country machine tools, equipment of various kinds, paper, pulp, etc. for eight years, their length would be three and a half thousand kilometers,” writes Zhdanov’s biographer Alexei Volynets in his book, published in ZhZL series. “In addition to this train of 340,000 wagons, there were another 514 ships built at Finnish shipyards for our country.”

Serious internal political restrictions were also imposed. Finland pledged, in particular, “to immediately disband all pro-Hitler (fascist) political, military, paramilitary, and other organizations hostile to the United Nations, in particular the Soviet Union, propaganda located on its territory, and continue to prevent the existence of such organizations ”.

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