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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Russia vs Finland: A counter with very deep roots and centuries of history

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The news did not explode like a bomb. It has been prepared for a long time and it seemed. Finland will apply to join NATO, abandoning a neutrality it has had since World War II.

Of course, this neutrality had been virtually abandoned since 1995, when both Finland and Sweden (which, incidentally, has not been at war for the past 200 years) switched to military non-alignment when they joined the European Union. But Finland's accession to NATO – as well as Sweden – is expected to cause the next and most flammable point of friction with Russia on a global scale.

The Russians have repeatedly stated, even threatening to invasion or use of nuclear weapons that in no case do they want their common border with Finland, which is 1300 km long, to become a common border with NATO.

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That is, to have NATO in their “soft belly”. But if Finland or Sweden become (as it turns out) NATO members and Russia attacks them, they automatically fall under Article 5 of the alliance, which states that “an attack on a NATO member is an attack on all allies.” Imagine what would happen if Russia attacked Finland. What we are seeing happening in Ukraine will be a “kindergarten” in the face of what is expected to happen.

Hate relationships

Although neighbors, Russia and Finland have a severely disrupted relationship with much hatred and bloody wars. Finland was for centuries the eastern part of the Swedish Empire, until 1809.

In that year, Tsarist Russia, seeking to protect its capital St. Petersburg from Swedish aggression, conquered Finland and transformed it. in part of Imperial Russia, but with an autonomous state.

Until the end of the 19th century, Finland enjoyed broad autonomy until Russia tried to integrate it into its central system of government as part of a program to create a Russian-centric state with a dominant role in the Slavic element.

The outbreak of World War I, the defeat of Russia in it and the simultaneous outbreak of the Russian Revolution gave Finland the opportunity for independence. On December 6, 1917, the Parliament of Finland declared the country independent. The revolutionary government of the Bolsheviks, three weeks later, recognized the new government of Finland.

Finland and the Soviet Union

And we come to the years when Russia ceased to exist. to exist and was replaced by the Soviet Union. At that time, the relations between the two countries were really tested, culminating in the Soviet-Finnish war. The beginning was made by the Finns. In 1918 and 1919, Finnish volunteers launched two unsuccessful military incursions along the Soviet border.

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In 1920, Finnish communists based in Russia attempted to assassinate Finnish Emil Mannerheim, a former leader of the Finnish White Guard (supporters of the Tsar in the Russian Civil War with the Bolsheviks). and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Tartu, which established the border between the two countries. In 1931 the Communist Party of Finland was outlawed and the far-right Lapua Movement resorted to atrocities and acts of violence against the Communists.

The Soviets from 1930 onwards wanted to protect themselves from the threat of an attack on Leningrad (formerly St. Petersburg) which was very close to the border with Finland.

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So they considered that they had to occupy territories around the city in order to give strategic depth to its defense. In 1938 the Finns were informed by the Soviets of a possible war with Nazi Germany and asked to lease some islands in the Gulf of Finland along the coast near Leningrad in order to protect the city. The Finnish government rejected the proposal.

A year later, the Soviet Union invited a Finnish representative to Moscow for talks. The Soviet side was mainly concerned with Leningrad's proximity to the border.

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Stalin allegedly said, “There is nothing we can do about geography like you. Since Leningrad cannot be moved, we must move the border away from it.” 90km in Finnish territory so that the city could not be hit by enemy artillery. the Hanko Peninsula for the Soviets to set up a naval base.

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In return, the Soviets ceded to Finland territory in East Karelia, the size of which they would lose. The Finns refused, the two countries began to mobilize their troops on the border, the fever was rising and on November 13, 1939 the Finnish diplomats left Moscow.

The reason for the war

Relations between the two countries were at a standstill and the war between them was more than certain. On November 26, a Soviet border post in the village of Mainila was hit by artillery fire from unknown individuals, according to Soviet reports, killing four and wounding nine Soviet border guards. Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov seized the opportunity, attributed the attack to the Finnish artillery, and demanded that Finland apologize.

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Finland also demanded that it move its forces 20 kilometers from the border. Finland denied any responsibility, rejected Soviet demands, and on November 30, the Soviets invaded the country with 21 divisions and a total army of 450,000 men.

War

< p>It was a conflict between David and Goliath. The Soviets expected a comfortable victory in a few weeks. But Stalin's purges of the army in the late 1930s had disorganized the army. The Red Army had deported 36,371 officers and replaced them with the promotion of σε soldiers to leaders.

The rapid and lightning strike did not come. The Finns took full advantage of their country's forests and geography, which were virtually impassable with inhospitable soil, snow, and unpaved dirt roads.

So they decided not to act like a regular army and to confront the huge Soviet force, but they waged a clever guerrilla war with formidable snipers. It was then that the “Molotov cocktail bomb” was used for the first time (in order to delay the phalanxes with the tanks).

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All Soviet attacks one after another were repulsed with huge losses on both sides. Only the Soviets could make up for them, but the Finns could not.

In the third week of the war, Stalin was furious. The Red Army was facing humiliation. But the Soviet generals slowly began to learn from their sufferings and change their tactics, but not their firepower. At the same time the munitions were running out on the Finns.

Now on February 11, the Soviets, after fierce resistance from the exhausted Finns, began to advance and one by one the strongholds of the defenders collapsed.

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At the end of February, it became clear that the Finnish forces were approaching the limit of exhaustion. For the Soviets, the losses were great. The situation was a source of political shame for the Soviet regime and there was a danger of Anglo-French intervention.

As spring approached, Soviet forces risked getting stuck in the woods. Finnish Foreign Minister Veine Tanner arrived in Stockholm on Tuesday to negotiate peace terms with the Soviets through the Swedes.

On March 9, the Finnish military situation was desperate as troops suffered heavy casualties. The ammunition was depleted. The Finnish government had no choice but to accept the Soviet terms.

The terms

The war lasted 105 days. The conditions for the Finns were unbearable and far worse than those proposed to them by the Soviets before the start of the war. The casualties for the Finns were 26 thousand people and 43 thousand wounded while for the Soviets (according to the data published in 2013 by the “Russian State Military Archive”) the losses were 168 thousand dead and missing.

< p> World War II

The reverse was about to happen after the outbreak of World War II. On June 26, 1941, four days after the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Finland declared war on the USSR as an ally of Germany.

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Neutrality Finland signed a Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Aid Agreement with Russia in 1948, consolidating a degree of economic and political dependence and remaining militarily isolated from Western Europe. From then until the collapse of the USSR, the pact was in force.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Finns timidly and normally now emphasize that they want to join NATO. In fact, in recent years, together with the Swedes, they participate more and more often in exercises of the alliance, even if they are not members.

Source: politis.com.cy

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