Finlandization

FinnFlag

While we’re on the subject of Finland, the travel writer Jeffrey Tayler proposes Finlandization as his solution to the Ukraine situation. If you’re interested, here is his article and here is a very short history of Finlandization. After you read those, come back and continue below the jump for my own comments.

As a huge fan of Jeffrey Tayler’s adventure travel books I’m always eager to read his views, and I’m happy to agree that the Corker bill sounds bellicose, would be unpalatable to the Russian leadership and would never work. I do have a couple of quibbles with the article, though. 

Mr. Tayler proposes that “the United States should commit to not inviting Ukraine to join NATO, and thereby preserving for the country a status of neutrality identical to that enjoyed by Finland.”

Not inviting Ukraine to join NATO would hardly create a status identical to Finland. Finland is a much more homogenous country with a far smaller percentage of ethnic Russians than Ukraine. Russian is the mother tongue of about 1.3% of people in Finland while over 17% of people in Ukraine identify as ethnic Russian. The likelihood of continuing agitation by ethnic Russian separatists is far greater in Ukraine.

Second, Mr. Tayler writes, “Ukraine would, in effect, to the benefit of all parties, be ‘Finlandized’ — that is, neutral. There is nothing negative in the term. Finland shares a long land border with Russia, of which it once was a part, and with which it now enjoys normal relations.”

I don’t know of any issue on which the views of Russia don’t have huge bearing on Finland’s politics, so relations, while normally good,  aren’t quite ‘normal.’ When Russia sneezes Finland catches cold. 

While there may be nothing negative in the term Finlandization, James Kirchick’s article (link above) shows some of the many ways Finlandization, as a policy, warped Finnish development during the Soviet years. Just sayin’.

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