Finland and Sweden could announce their intention to apply to the NATO this week. It will undoubtedly be another great failure for Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which started the war in Ukraine for, among other reasons, to stop the rapprochement of Kyiv to Europe now USAwhich is expected to decide this week to apply for NATO membership, have had strained ties with their giant neighbor Russia for a long time.
The difficult past of Sweden and Finland with Russia dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when the tsars of the Russian Empire tried to conquer Finland, then a part of the Swedish kingdom. The king charles twelfth of Sweden invaded and conquered parts of Russia in the early 18th century, but lost a battle at Poltava, in present-day Ukraine, to the Tsar Peter the Great. This event marked the end of Sweden as a major power in Northern Europe. Sweden lost Finland to Russia in a war in 1809, making Finland an autonomous territory of the Russian empire, the Grand Duchy of Finland.
In the midst of the chaos that arose from the Russian Revolution from 1917, Finland declared its independence on December 6 of that year. After a few decades of Finnish independence and just before the Second World War, the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact that included a secret protocol assigning Finland as well as Estonia and Latvia, as part of the Soviet “sphere of influence”.
Joseph Stalin’s Red Army attacked Finland in 1939, starting what became known as the Winter War in which Finland single-handedly fought against the attempted Soviet invasion. Finland’s requests for military aid from the Western Allies went unanswered, causing Helsinki to ally itself with Nazi Germany in a second war against the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1944.
Finland lost about 10% of its territory to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Armistice in September 1944. It had to relocate 400,000 inhabitants, or 11% of its population, from the lost territories and pay $300 million worth of war reparations, which is equivalent to about 4.9 billion euros ($5.3 billion) at the exchange rate. current.
Finland also had to sign the Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Agreement with Russia in 1948, cementing a degree of economic and political dependence and isolating it militarily from Western Europe. The Finnish President Urho Kekkonen in office from 1956 to 1982, he focused on maintaining friendly and close relations with Moscow to preserve independence by avoiding conflict, a tactic known as Finnishization.
The end of the Cold War allowed Finland to emerge from the shadow of Russia and join the European Union in 1995, as well as the Eurozone in 1999. Its integration into the EU and the signing of its mutual defense clause meant that Finland changed from neutrality to military non-alignmentbut Finland chose to remain outside the western defense alliance NATO .
As of 2020, only about 20% of Finns wanted Finland to join NATO in polls, with most people believing that peace was best kept by maintaining friendly relations and economic ties with Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the mood among Finns, with around 76% of people in favor of joining NATO and only 12% against.
Sweden and Russia have not been at war since 1809, when Sweden lost Finland to the Russian empire. Already in the 20th century, Sweden lent some military aircraft to Finland, when she was attacked by Russia during the Winter War in 1939, but remained neutral during World War II and the Cold War. Sweden’s official role as a neutral state allowed it to be critical of both the Soviet Union and the United States, despite this, it had a secret agreement that the United States would come to Sweden’s defense in the event of a Soviet attack from the United States. 1960s onwards.
Sweden and the Soviet Union had several diplomatic rows throughout the Cold War, often related to alleged or proven violations of submarines from Swedish waters by the Soviets. The most serious incident of the 1950s occurred when Soviet warplanes shot down two Swedish planes, one military and one civilian, within days of each other over the Baltic Sea in 1952. The Soviet Union did not officially acknowledge that it shot down the planes until 1991. .
In 1981, in what was known in the West as the Whiskey on the Rocks incident, a submarine ran aground off the coast of southern Sweden. Sweden said it detected radiation indicating the ship was armed with nuclear weapons. After 10 days of tense diplomatic exchanges, the submarine was taken out and returned to the Soviets.