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Poll: Russia not a security threat for Finland

Most Finnish residents don’t perceive Russia as posing any security threat to Finland. According to a new survey by national broadcaster Yle, just one-third of Finns say that it’s somewhat or highly likely that Russia would present any short term security threat.

Kaksi venäläissotilasta ja Venäjän lippua suuren savupiipun päässä.
A new survey by national broadcaster Yle indicates that most people in Finland don't see Russia as a security threat. Image: Anton Pedko / EPA

The Yle survey revealed that more than 60 percent of Finns believe that it’s unlikely that Russia would threaten security in Finland.

Just one-third of their compatriots felt that their eastern neighbour would pose a risk in the short term.

“On the basis of their knowledge of their own history Finns can take a realistic view of an extreme situation and won’t come to wild conclusions. I would say that this opinion poll pretty much reflects the actual situation,” said Markku Kangaspuro, research director of the Aleksanteri Institute, which specialises in research relating to Russia and Eastern Europe.

Small differences based on party affiliation

The tendency to dismiss concerns about Russia as a security threat becomes even clearer when the survey results are examined on the basis of party affiliations.

“It’s also very likely that (party) supporters will reflect the commonly-held view on this question. Finland has traditionally enjoyed broad consensus with respect to foreign policy,” Kangaspuro said, parsing the results.

Supporters of the Left Alliance, the Centre party, the Swedish Peoples Party and the Green League were on average less likely than other respondents, to be concerned about a security threat.

Meanwhile backers of the National Coalition Party, the Social Democrats, the Finns Party and the Christian Democrats were more likely than the average respondent to believe that a Russian security threat was likely.

However the poll showed relatively small absolute differences along party lines.

“If you really want to read something into this, you might say that the National Coalition Party’s criticism of Russia and the party leadership’s open pro-NATO stance feed on each other to some extent,” Kangaspuro remarked.

Yle commissioned Taloustutkimus pollsters for the survey, which interviewed 1,003 respondents between the ages of 15 and 79 in mainland Finland. The poll was conducted in early December via phone interviews. The margin of error was +/- 2.5 percentage points.

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