Finland threatens Russia


You may not have been glued to the annual new year’s address by Finland’s president. That’s understandable but unfortunate, because Sauli Niinisto said some remarkable things. His speech should give the European Union an idea, to be discussed not just in Brussels but also — and especially — in the capitals of Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.

These six countries all belong to the EU but are otherwise officially non-aligned, meaning that they are not members of NATO, the transatlantic alliance that kept the peace during the Cold War and currently has to figure out how it would respond to a renewed invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The idea — inspired by Niinisto’s comments — is this: All six neutral countries, linking arms with the EU and NATO, should turn the ultimatum given by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the West on its head. He’s in effect demanding that NATO stop expanding forever, or else he attacks. Instead, the Finns, Swedes, Austrians, Irish, Maltese and Cypriots should explain that if he does attack, they will join NATO.

Niinisto, of course, didn’t nearly go that far. In his diplomatic way, he merely reminded Finns that their “room to maneuver and freedom of choice also include the possibility of military alignment and of applying for NATO membership, should we ourselves so decide.” This freedom of choice is exactly what Putin wants to deny countries such as Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia.…

For Finland and Sweden are concerned that if Russia becomes more aggressive in the Baltic, they would both be on the front line. Above all, both have an interest — as does the entire EU — in sending a message to Putin: We don’t accept your attempt to return to might-makes-right and spheres of influence; we won’t allow great powers once again to decide among themselves the fate of smaller nations.



That could more aptly be phrased as Finland does not want to be next inline for Russian aggression at some point.

The spheres of influence during the cold war were between the US and Russia. China has much larger expectations now. Russia and China are redefining those spheres the US be damned. That can equally read the EU be damned. Finland needs to do a serious bit of thinking.

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Finland needs to do a serious bit of thinking.

Yes, maybe a “bit” about this very specific situation, but not much, because they have been thinking non-stop about Russia for the last few centuries.

I love Finland and the Finns, partly for their wonderful weird culture, partly for their magnificent gay rights activist known as “Tom of Finland”, but mostly for their gorgeous combination of kindness with extremely dangerous smart ferocity when provoked.

During one visit to Oulu (think Silicon Valley dehydrated to its essentials and put on the Arctic Circle), where I was consulting on an encryption system design, my workmates took me to their favorite local bar and after a few hours of growing happiness (they taught/coached me to sing a Finnish rock song where a man becomes so besotten with love he decides to “put boots on bears” so as to prove it?!)

and then proposed I join them over the weekend when they would voluntarily go and practice Winter War Maneuvers near the Russian border. NO! Most folks here can have NO IDEA how cold it gets along the northern edge of the Finnish Russian border in the depths of winter. But the Finns seem to have a genetic expectation that such fighting is inevitable and that they best stay ready for it. They have memories:

David fb
(Finnish sounds eerily similar to Hawaiian because of its emphasis on vowels, as you will hear if you check out the youtube link above. But the entire tone and “music” is entirely different)


DH’s mother’s family immigrated from Finland to northern Minnesota in the early 20th century. I met his sweet grandparents, who were married at age 18 and lived in a logging camp in the 1920s (they were in their 80s when I met them). I never met such nice, quiet people … who must have been incredibly tough to survive their experiences.

I visited Helsinki on business for a couple of days. Went to church on Sunday in the Church in the Rock. I think this church says a lot about the character of the Finns. Contrast it, for example, with St. Peter’s in Rome.



Finland needs to do a serious bit of thinking.

Yes, maybe a “bit” about this very specific situation, but not much, because they have been thinking non-stop about Russia for the last few centuries.


Finns and their brothers the Estonians, Karelians, Ingrians, Livonians and other many other Finnic tribes came from Asia migrating over the Urals during Mesolithic age and living in the taiga forests of now Northern Russia for thousands of years and then migrating further Westward during Neolithic age. During the Bronze Age more Westward migrations brought them to their present day locations in Finland, Sweden, Baltics and surrounding areas. From about 3000 to 1500 years ago Northern Europe from the Urals to Atlantic was mainly inhabited by the Finnic tribes. These Finnic tribes still have significant populations in present day Finland, Northern Russia, Scandinavian and Baltic countries.

In places like Finland they remained more ethnically pure, where as in Northern Russia, Scandinavia and Baltics they began to assimilate with Slavic and Scandinavian peoples.

These Finnic people were often called Forest People because they lived in the forests and survived by hunting and gathering. They became fierce and tough because of the harsh cold long winters and the demands of building strong sheltering and hunting in the forests. Some of the Estonians and Livonians living by the Baltic Sea became Baltic Vikings - raiding Swedish towns.



The question at hand is when do the Americans and Russians fight?

There will be no battle between us. The Russians entering a country such as the Ukraine Russia will get a very bloodied nose as the US and EU arm the locals to the hilt. Russia conceivably could lose its army in the process.

The next layer of this is how do the different parties dissuade Russia and make their own political process independent of Russia?

Joining NATO is part of that process.

The Finns have never needed that. But the Finns over the long haul have never been up against Putin. He will be working to subvert the Finnish government. As he has worked to subvert the US government.

Pride goeth before a fall.

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My family has a strong “affinity”, pun intended, with the Finns for they aided my grandfather’s escape from the Russians.

The Finns have a very strong independence streak and are known as being some of the best winter and mountain fighters in the world.


The Finns have a very strong independence streak and are known as being some of the best winter and mountain fighters in the world.


The question is what stance prevents the Russians militarily or political subversion before it begins?

Bloodshed because of stupid is not the better option…pointing clearly at Russia. Or in reality only at Putin. Some of the best trained people in the world in Russia without an allowance for their own beings and thoughts in public.

Russia would actually be so much better off economically without Putin.

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Sorry, you can only recommend a post to the Best of once.


Like Jeff and many others, DW and I visited Finland on an extended cruise to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg, Russia. Although Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have a long and interwoven history, Finland has an austere and distinctive culture all its own. The contrast between The Church in the Rock and St. Peter’s Basilica is stark and instructive.

The following paragraph from a Google inquiry about the difference between Finland and Scandinavia is helpful:

Finland is not part of Scandinavia, but it is part of the Nordic Union. The Finnish language belongs to a totally different language group than the other Nordic languages. Finland has a lot more eastern influence than the rest of the Nordic union, which is natural, as [they] have a land border with the Russian heartland.…

Your description of strength in adversity is apropos. The Finnish culture incorporates a form of stoicism uniquely different from other traditions. “Sisu” is the word to identify this character trait.

Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.

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