What would happen if Russia invaded Finland?
The miracle of Helsinki (5/5)"Always wave nicely towards Moscow"
The Moskva Bar in central Helsinki. Founded by the directors Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, who are known for their very Finnish, very melancholy films in which a lot of Finnish tango is played. But there is no tango in the bar - it is Russian polka. Finnish guests, Russian music - they all go well together here.
Maintaining the balance between East and West: That is also Finland's role in Europe - and a legacy of long-term President Urho Kekkonen. However, a controversial legacy, says Russia expert Arto Luukkanen:
"If you live at the foot of Vesuvius and you know that hot lava always comes up, you have to be aware of it. And deal with it. This has often been criticized from outside, according to the motto: Finland, such a model country, and submits the Soviet Union. "
Eastern trade still plays an important role today
This so-called Finlandization was not entirely altruistic: Urho Kekkonen was not just a conservative anti-communist at heart - he was very pragmatic in Finland: Thanks to his rapprochement policy, the economy was doing well: Eastern trade played - and continues to play - an important role for Finland to this day. Above all, however, his country preserved its independence. And with the CSCE, it proved to the world in the middle of the Cold War: We are neutral.
Arto Luukkanen: "The Soviet Union continued to try to influence Finland. It was a great struggle for the Finnish soul: do we want socialism? Most of them didn't want it. Like now: The Finns like the EU, but a European federation - please don't. There is a similar need to be independent and to continue the Finnish project. "
Finland must continue to equalize
The Cold War is over. But east-west relations are worse than ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain. And even if it is no longer about ideological questions, but about classic power politics: Finland must continue to balance.
Arto Luukanen: "We always have to wave nicely in the direction of Moscow. At the same time, we are EU members and have to play by their rules. You want to be a nerd in the EU, it's just a shame that you don't get smileys as a model pupil. Finlandization continues, so to speak from Moscow to the west: There is a Berlinization, so Germany subordinates itself, and of course a Brusselsization. "
Russia sanctions hit Finland's economy
And this despite the fact that the Russia sanctions in the course of the Ukraine crisis hit Finland's economy particularly hard. But according to surveys, two thirds of Finns still insist on their neutrality. Because of the good economic relations with Russia, the brisk border tourism and the dependence on Russian gas. And because they never want to fight their neighbors again: During the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of Finns lost their lives fighting with the Red Army.
Arto Luukkanen: "But Russia's policies have become more aggressive and unpredictable. Putin is playing with the rules of the Cold War: If the West gets Ukraine, we want something too. He still lives in the world where there are two blocs, like the one Wagnerian Götterdämmerung, all power rests with Putin. Problem: If this center no longer exists, then the greatest destruction will begin. "
When Russian fighter-bombers penetrated Finnish airspace in the wake of the Crimean crisis, many feared that Russia might try to expand its sphere of power to the west. However, the Russia expert and author Markku Kivinen did not believe in an invasion of Finland. His narrow office is framed by walls of shelves full of books. From here he heads the Russia-friendly Aleksanteri Institute:
"Russia wouldn't send its army to Finland. You can't just march into Finland like you can into Ukraine."
Helsinki Final Act is becoming more topical again
The Ukraine crisis has driven a wedge into Finnish-Russian relations and neutrality is wavering. In Finland there have been joint maneuvers with US forces. And of all people, the Eurosceptic "True Finns" commissioned a study on their country's possible membership of NATO. NATO membership would mean that Russia's longest border with Europe would become the NATO border - a threatening scenario for Russia. But politically that is as good as impossible.
But there are still Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania - former Soviet republics and now NATO members. Should NATO and Russia fight each other - would Finland remain neutral?
Markku Kivinien: "If Finland got into an international conflict, it would be on the side of NATO."
At this point the Helsinki Final Act is topical again: By annexing Crimea, Russia broke the agreement: It changed borders - not peacefully, but with armed force. While Helsinki is still considered a symbolic place: Putin and Trump met in Helsinki in July.
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö said he wanted to promote dialogue in international relations - détente is in everyone's interest. Perhaps he also reminded his guests that the agreements have been in effect from then until now and are the basis for functioning international relations: the renunciation of force, the inviolability of borders and the protection of human rights.
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