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Memos Suggest Gorbachev Used Menacing Language toward Finland

Extracts from discussions between Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Finnish President Mauno Koivisto have been published.

Mihail Gorbatshov.
Image: Joerg Carstensen / EPA

Nykypäivä, the organ of the National Coalition Party, and Verkkouutiset, the party’s online publication, published memoranda drawn up in connection with meetings between the two presidents between 1987 and 1991.

Gorbachev, who had praised Finland in the earlier meetings, seems to come close to making threats in 1991 in discussions on the acquisition of war materiel.

“In light of our long-standing friendly relations, we feel that it would not appear particularly appropriate if Finland were to switch the acquisition of special equipment away from the Soviet Union,” Gorbachev is quoted as saying.

He continued: “Otherwise we might take the view that this is a change in Finnish policy. Such voices have already been heard."

Gorbachev’s comments could be explained by tensions prevailing in the Soviet Union at the time. The discussion took place two months before the attempted coup in the country.

The sources of the memoranda include Gorbachev’s aides. The papers were kept at the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow, from where they were leaked to historian Pavel Stroilov in 2003.

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