Russia and Finland have never had particularly harmonious relations and they appear to be getting worse. Finland is interested in joining NATO as part of its growing links to the West. Citizens will vote on a referendum on the issue. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal envoy Sergei Markov has responded with a menacing statement that “If Finland wants to join NATO, they should think first . Will you join and start World War III? Anti-Semitism started World War II. Russofobien can start a third.”
Russian threats to Finland are nothing new. Under Stalin, Russia created the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler, including a secret pact to take over weaker nations including Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. It would later backfire on the Russians when Hitler then invaded their country and they switched sides to the allies. However, Finland proved a disaster for the Russians. While they would prevail by sheer crushing numbers, the tiny army of Finland ran circles around the Russians for months and inflicted huge losses. Eventually, Finland ceded territory representing 11% of its land area and 30% of its economy to the Soviet Union. There is good reason for the Finns to look to the West given that history as well as closer cultural affinity to NATO nations.
Markov warned Finland that it might see a new World War and presumably Russian troops in combat operations. Markov is quoted as saying that Finland is one of the most russofobiske (russophobic) countries after Sweden and the Baltic countries. He has called the Finnish media “despicable” in their continued references to “Russian influence” in various bordering countries. Even more menacing is his prediction of a new federation including Donetsk, Luhansk, Charkiv, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporozjie. He said it will be called Novorossija or “New Russia.”
That sounds a lot like the Old Russia to neighboring countries and Putin critics. While Putin and his aides have denounced comparisons to Hitler in his expansion into areas like the Crimea, his people appear to be morphing into historical villains. Indeed, Markov sounds a lot like the pathetic figure of Vyacheslav Molotov.
For Putin’s part, he appears to be taking a page from Stalin’s playbook when Uncle Joe said “Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.”