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Thread: Finland and USSR after WWII

  1. #1
    Retired Senior Member Prince Cobra's Avatar
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    Default Finland and USSR after WWII

    The period I am interested in is between 1945 and 1991 esp. the beginning of the period. I am in the beginning of certain project at university and I'd like clarify several things in the literature I have.

    Several brief questions:

    1) In the Winter War there was an attempt by USSR to annex Finland (like the Baltic states), it failed. However, after the World War II the situation was slightly different. Did the Soviet leadership still want to annex (or puppeteer) Finland? Did they have the opportunity(was Finland in the Russian sphere of influence)? Or they have the opportunity but simply did not want to complicate their relations with the other Scandinavian states. Or was there anything else?

    2) In 1948 there was a pact for friendship. A simplified explanation: It included military colaboration. It was a success for Finland to restrict it to favourable for Finland conditions (Finland-Soviet engagement only concerned the Finnish territory; and unless somebody attacked Finland (highly unlikely, I think), it practically would not be used ). De facto Finland is neutral with Soviet Union as a guarantee for this neutrality. Is this so (to the exception of 1961 "Note crisis" that was more like a test). Is this right?

    Thanks for the help...
    Last edited by Prince Cobra; 12-14-2008 at 13:06.
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    Isänmaantoivo Member Kääpäkorven Konsuli's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finland and USSR after WWII

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Asen View Post
    1) In the Winter War there was an attempt by USSR to annex Finland (like the Baltic states), it failed. However, after the World War II the situation was slightly different. Did the Soviet leadership still want to annex (or puppeteer) Finland? Did they have the opportunity(was Finland in the Russian sphere of influence)? Or they have the opportunity but simply did not want to complicate their relations with the other Scandinavian states. Or was there anything else?
    Finland is not a Scandinavian state.

    Anyway, before 1947 Finland seemed to be doomed to have the same fate as the Easter European states. Any violation of terms of Moscow Armistice was seem to give Soviet Union a reason to annex Finland. After the Yya Treaty and the death of Stalin this situation changed.

    In 50's, Soviet Union didn't need to worry as much about the conventional amies of west as their nuclear arsenal anymore, Finnish territory lost much of its importance. As a sign of this the soviets returned Porkkala.

    Most of the time Soviet Union didn't try to annex or puppeteer Finland. Keeping it neutral was enough.
    Trade with Finland was also a great way for the Soviets to acquire western technology.

    2)De facto Finland is neutral with Soviet Union as a guarantee for this neutrality. Is this so (to the exception of 1961 "Note crisis" that was more like a test). Is this right?
    This is true. Soviet Union wanted to make sure that NATO coulnd't use Finnish territory against it. And Yya Treaty worked: in war NATO would have treated Finland as an ally of Soviet Union.
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  3. #3
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finland and USSR after WWII

    AFAIK the Soviets' interest in Finland revolved almost entirely around one single issue - the defense of Leningrad, one of their more important cities and main Baltic port. One look at the map of the Baltic should be sufficient to illustrate why they had a keen interest in both the northern and southern shore of the Gulf of Finland concerning this topic. (The Finnish border in Karelia being damn near within artillery range of the metropolis didn't exactly put the Soviet strategists at ease either.)

    Hence why the terms that ended the Winter War included a Soviet base in Hankoniemi - other than putting potentially useful pressure on the Finnish capital Helsinki (it's about half an hour away by train), in combination with the Soviet grab of the Baltic states emplacing heavy coastal batteries there allowed them to dominate the sea approaches. The postwar Porkkala base performed a similar function; at least part of the reason the Soviets gave it back was technological developements which rendered it unnecessary, as the southern coast alone was now sufficient to control the Gulf if need be.

    I've been given to understand that during WW2 Churchill - acting perhaps partly on the "fennophile" sentiments he'd developed during the Winter War, and certainly on the longstanding English strategic interest in the Baltic - cut a deal with Stalin to leave Finland independent, although that certainly didn't keep Uncle Joe for trying very hard to grab as much real estate and advantageous negotiating position as the Red Army could get him. Finland was much too small a fry to piss the Brits (and by extension, the Americans) off over, so as long as the Soviets got the security they sought for Leningrad they didn't have too much against the arrangement.
    They had way more important "strategic depth" territory to grab down in Europe proper, anyway.

    Post war, Moscow also flat out found it convenient and useful to have a "friendly neutral" minor state - whose politics they had easy enough time influencing - next door as a trading partner and Baltic buffer.
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