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Former Defence Force chief: Russia not a military threat to Finland

Russia’s threshold for a military action against Finland is exceedingly high, says former head of the Finnish Defence Forces General Gustav Hägglund. However the retired army chief said that it’s important for Finland to understand that Russia is ready to use military force if it deems it necessary.

Gustav Hägglund.
Former defence chief Gustav Hägglund says Russia's threshold for military action against Finland is quite high. Image: Yle

Speaking on Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme Thursday morning, General Hägglund said that in his view while Russia is always ready to use force, Finland’s eastern neighbor hardly has plans to launch an attack against Finland, nor does it pose any current or acute threat.

“There are many more tempting targets. They were so badly beaten last time around in the Winter War and in the summer of 1944, that the threshold for attacking Finland is exceptionally high,” Hägglund said.

Instead the former defence chief said, Russia might seek to restore the kind of political leverage the Soviet Union possessed during the time of the Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance treaty that it signed with Finland in 1948. 

Under the treaty the Soviet Union sought to deter attack from Western or Allied Powers through Finnish territory, while Finns sought to increase Finland's political independence from the Soviet Union.

Hägglund said that he believed that the Kremlin is satisfied with current Finnish-Russian relations because they are beneficial to Russia.

“Both countries’ economies complement each other. And this is a good example of how well Russia can get along with a neighbor,” Hägglund added.

Hägglund pointed out that Russia has many neighbours with whom it does not have good relations, some of which are Baltic countries.

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