Russia invades Ukraine to block NATO’s eastward expansion, but realizes the opposite

The Nordic country of Finland is known as the home of Santa Claus and Moomin. Recently too, its progressive education system is attracting attention. It is a country admired by many Japanese.

However, if we look back in history, it is also a country that has had to face many difficulties. There was the “Winter War” of 1939, followed by the “Continuation War” from 1941 to 1944.

Finland’s “Winter War” began with the Soviet invasion of Finland in the early winter of 1939. Organizing ski troops, the Finnish army attacked Soviet army tanks in forests.

The Finns did indeed use Molotov cocktails, which were simple incendiary devices made using glass bottles filled with gasoline or tar, as weapons. The weapon’s name was derived from then-Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, according to the book Monogatari-History of Finland (Bunko Shinsho, 2017) by Yuko Ishino.

Despite their fierce resistance, the Finns were vastly outnumbered by the Soviet military forces, and Finland lost a great deal of territory during the war.

Just 15 months later, in the second Soviet conflict known as the “Continuation War”, Finland sought to defend itself and retake its territory by siding with Nazi Germany, which was fighting against the Union Soviet. But, in the end, 12% of the country’s territory ended up being taken over by the Soviets.

Learning from its two defeats, Finland then remained neutral, even at the start of the Cold War era.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland strengthened its ties with Europe and successfully joined the European Union. However, they wanted to avoid the risk of provoking Russia, with which they share a border of 1,300 kilometers. Meanwhile, Finland’s interest in joining the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) never gained momentum.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to undergo a major transformation. Considering the possibility of Finland becoming the next target of Russian attacks, the only option is to stand up to the Russian Federation within a collective European defense.

According to a recent opinion poll, for the first time most Finns are in favor of NATO membership. In an interview with The Sankei ShimbunFinland’s former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has said the country’s membership is no longer a question of “if”, but rather of “when”.

Didn’t President Vladimir Putin say that Russia started war on Ukraine to prevent it from joining NATO in the first place? If Finland chooses NATO membership, it would be an acceleration of NATO’s eastward expansion, and another reason to view Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a catastrophic blunder.

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(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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