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Between war and balance: the keys to the historical relationship between Finland and Russia

2022-05-18T18:26:50.243Z

This is a look at the historical relationship between Finland and Russia, from the wars of the 20th century to the current difficult balance.



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(CNN Spanish) --

As Russia's war in Ukraine approaches its first 100 days, marked by destruction and death, and with no end in sight, Finland and Sweden have been advancing rapidly in their membership processes to NATO.

This Wednesday, both countries submitted their applications to join the Atlantic Alliance, in what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described as a "historic step."

  • Finland and Sweden submit their applications to join NATO

Joining NATO, a military alliance founded in 1949 to counter the growing Soviet Union and later the Russian Federation, represents a turning point in the historic neutrality of Finland and Sweden.

But in the case of Finland, this neutrality has been punctuated by numerous tensions and two terrible wars against the Soviet Union, whose legal successor is Russia, which still lingers in the minds of the inhabitants of the Nordic country.

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At the same time, Finland has had to maintain a stable and balanced relationship with Russia, with whom it shares its largest border and has an important trading relationship.

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This is a look at the difficult historical relationship between Finland and Russia.

The harsh winter war between Finland and the USSR

After being under the rule of Sweden and then, from 1809, of Russia, Finland achieved its independence in 1917 and in the context of the Russian Revolution, which led to the fall of Tsar Nicholas II.

  • Everything you need to know about Finland: facts, history and news

In November 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Finland due to a border conflict in the Karelia region, starting the Winter War, a true conflict between David and Goliath.

Although the Finnish resistance was tougher than expected, causing serious casualties to the Soviets in harsh winter conditions, the numerical superiority of the USSR was overwhelming and the conflict ended in March 1940 with a peace treaty and a cession of territories. from Finland.

Finnish troops poised on the Russo-Finnish border on October 12, 1939, during the Winter War.

(Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Second World War

When Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941, Finland joined the invading forces in an attempt to recapture its lost territories, and again went to war with the USSR.

  • What was the role of the Soviet Union in World War II: timeline and key battles

In 1944, with Germany in clear retreat on the open eastern front with the USSR, Finland broke its agreements with Berlin and made peace with Moscow.

Then Finnish and German troops clashed on the territory of Finland.

From the Cold War to today

Pressured by its extensive border with the USSR and recent history, Finland declared itself neutral during the Cold War, maintaining relations with both blocs and neither opposing nor allying with the Soviets.

This condition made the country a usual venue for international summits during the period.

But shortly after the fall of the USSR, in 1991, Finland began to improve its ties with the West and NATO, while at the same time maintaining a balance with its neighbor.

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"Finland's approach to Russia is one of dialogue and, in the extreme case, deterrence," said Charly Salonius-Pasternak of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

"Your neighbors trade, your politicians and officials talk, but you have to be prepared to defend yourself."

In 1994 Finland began to cooperate with NATO, joining the Partnership for Peace (PfP) initiatives and then, in 1997, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC).

A year later, Finland joined the European Union, and in 1999 it also adopted the euro.

While in 2014 it became one of the six countries that are not members of NATO but are part of the alliance's Interoperability Initiative (PII), contributing "significantly" to its operations.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on October 25, 2021. (Credit: JUSSI NUKARI/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, brought Finland even closer to NATO, which announced a strengthening of its cooperation with Finland and Sweden, which includes political dialogues, information exchange, training and joint actions, between other measures.

"The Finns think that if Putin can massacre his sisters, brothers and cousins ​​in Ukraine, as he is doing now, nothing is stopping him from doing it in Finland. We just don't want to be left alone again," Alexander Stubb, Prime Minister of the Finns, told CNN. Finland between 2014 and 2015, remembering the Winter War.

And, after the government in Helsinki showed its intentions to join NATO, this Tuesday the Finnish parliament approved the initiative and this Wednesday the country formally requested, together with Sweden, entry.

With information from Germán Padinger, Stephanie Halasz, Marja Heinone, Jennifer Hansler Natasha, Bertrand, Matthew Chance and Emma Burrows.

FinlandNews from Russia

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-05-18

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