Explained: What is ‘Finlandization’, discussed as a possible option for Ukraine?

What is the News?

The French President has suggested Finlandization might be a realistic outcome for Ukraine if and when the Russia-Ukraine war ends.

What is Finlandization?

Finlandization refers to the policy of strict neutrality between Moscow (Russia) and the West that Finland followed during the decades of the Cold War.

The principle of neutrality was rooted in the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance that Finland signed with the USSR in 1948.

What was the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance?

Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance of 1948 also known as the YYA Treaty was the basis for Finland–Soviet relations from 1948 to 1992.

It was the main instrument in implementing the Finnish policy called Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine.

Under the treaty, the Soviets sought to deter Western powers from attacking the Soviet Union through Finnish territory and the Finns sought to increase Finland’s political independence from the Soviet Union. 

The treaty obligated Finland to resist armed attacks by “Germany or its allies” (in reality interpreted as the United States and allies) against Finland or against the Soviet Union through Finland. If necessary, Finland was to ask for Soviet military aid to do so.

The agreement also allowed Finland to pursue the path of democracy and capitalism while staying out of the conflict between the great powers.

In return, Finland did not participate in the Marshall Plan. It took neutral positions on matters on which the Soviet Union and  West disagreed. It stayed aloof from NATO and used this positioning to ward off pressure from Russia to become part of the Soviet bloc or the Warsaw Pact.

The treaty came to an end in 1992 with the signing of a new treaty between Finland and post-Soviet Russia.

Ukraine and Finlandization

Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 had given some suggestions to settle Ukraine Crisis. These suggestions are:

Ukraine should have the right to freely choose its economic and political associations, including with Europe.

– Ukraine should not join NATO. It should be free to create a government compatible with the expressed will of its people.

– Ukraine should pursue a posture comparable to that of Finland. This will leave Ukraine with no doubt about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields but carefully avoids institutional hostility toward Russia.

Source: This post is based on an article Explained: What is ‘Finlandization’, discussed as a possible option for Ukraine?published in Indian Express on 23rd March 2022

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