Finland Abandons the ‘Helsinki Spirit’

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies reflect on the country’s tragic decision to join NATO and abandon a policy of neutrality that brought it 75 years of peace.

Finland’s President Urho Kekkonen, on right, at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe held in 1975 in Helsinki. (Tapio Korpisaari, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies
Common Dreams

On April 4, Finland officially became the 31st member of the NATO military alliance.

The 830-mile border between Finland and Russia is now by far the longest border between any NATO country and Russia, which otherwise borders only Norway, Latvia, Estonia, and short stretches of the Polish and Lithuanian borders where they encircle Kaliningrad.

In the context of the not-so-cold war between the United States, NATO and Russia, any of these borders is a potentially dangerous flashpoint that could trigger a new crisis, or even a world war.

But a key difference with the Finnish border is that it comes within about 100 miles of Severomorsk, where Russia’s Northern Fleet and 13 of its 23 nuclear-armed submarines are based. This could well be where World War III will begin, if it has not already started in Ukraine.

In Europe today, only Switzerland, Austria, Ireland and a handful of other small countries remain outside NATO. For 75 years, Finland was a model of successful neutrality, but it is far from demilitarized.

Like Switzerland, it has a large military, and young Finns are required to perform at least six months of military training after they turn 18. Its active and reserve military forces make up over 4 percent of the population — compared with only 0.6 percent in the U.S. — and 83 percent of Finns say they would take part in armed resistance if Finland were invaded.

(Rahuljazzws, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Only 20 to 30 percent of Finns have historically supported joining NATO, while the majority have consistently and proudly supported its policy of neutrality. In late 2021, a Finnish opinion poll measured popular support for NATO membership at 26 percent.

But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, that jumped to 60 percent within weeks and, by November 2022, 78 percent of Finns said they supported joining NATO.

As in the United States and other NATO countries, Finland’s political leaders have been more pro-NATO than the general public. Despite long-standing public support for neutrality, Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 1997.

The War in Afghanistan

Its government sent 200 troops to Afghanistan as part of the U.N.-authorized International Security Assistance Force after the 2001 U.S. invasion, and they remained there after NATO took command of this force in 2003. Finnish troops did not leave Afghanistan until all Western forces withdrew in 2021, after a total of 2,500 Finnish troops and 140 civilian officials had been deployed there, and two Finns had been killed.

A December 2022 review of Finland’s role in Afghanistan by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs found that the Finnish troops “repeatedly engaged in combat as part of the military operation that was now led by NATO, and had become a party in the conflict,” and that Finland’s proclaimed objective, which was “to stabilize and support Afghanistan to enhance international peace and security” was outweighed by “its desire to maintain and strengthen its foreign and security policy relations with the U.S. and other international partners, as well as its effort to deepen its collaboration with NATO.”

In other words, like other small NATO-allied countries, Finland was unable, in the midst of an escalating war, to uphold its own priorities and values, and instead allowed its desire “to deepen its collaboration” with the United States and NATO to take precedence over its original aim of trying to help the people of Afghanistan to recover peace and stability.

As a result of these confused and conflicting priorities, Finnish forces were drawn into the pattern of reflexive escalation and use of overwhelming destructive force that have characterized U.S. military operations in all its recent wars.

As a small new NATO member, Finland will be just as impotent as it was in Afghanistan to affect the momentum of the NATO war machine’s rising conflict with Russia. Finland will find that its tragic choice to abandon a policy of neutrality that brought it 75 years of peace and look to NATO for protection, will leave it, like Ukraine, dangerously exposed on the front lines of a war directed from Moscow, Washington and Brussels that it can neither win, nor independently resolve, nor prevent from escalating into World War III.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö with U.S. President Joe Biden in March 2023. (White House, Wikimedia Commons)

Finland’s success as a neutral and liberal democratic country during and since the Cold War has created a popular culture in which the public are more trusting of their leaders and representatives than people in most Western countries, and less likely to question the wisdom of their decisions.

So the near unanimity of the political class to join NATO in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine faced little public opposition. In May 2022, Finland’s parliament approved joining NATO by an overwhelming 188 votes to eight.

But why have Finland’s political leaders been so keen to “strengthen its foreign and security policy relations with the U.S. and other international partners,” as the Finland in Afghanistan report said? As an independent, neutral, but strongly armed military nation, Finland already meets the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of its GDP on the military. It also has a substantial arms industry, which builds its own modern warships, artillery, assault rifles and other weapons.

The Arms Market

NATO membership will integrate Finland’s arms industry into NATO’s lucrative arms market, boosting sales of Finnish weapons, while also providing a context to buy more of the latest U.S. and allied weaponry for its own military and to collaborate on joint weapons projects with firms in larger NATO countries.

With NATO military budgets increasing, and likely to keep increasing, Finland’s government clearly faces pressures from the arms industry and other interests. In effect, its own small military-industrial complex doesn’t want to be left out.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Feb. 28. (NATO)

Since it began its NATO accession, Finland has already committed $10 billion to buy American F-35 fighters to replace its three squadrons of F-18s. It has also been taking bids for new missile defense systems, and is reportedly trying to choose between the Indian-Israeli Barak 8 surface-to-air missile system and the U.S.-Israeli David’s Sling system, built by Israel’s Raphael and the U.S.’s Raytheon.

Finnish law prohibits the country from possessing nuclear weapons or allowing them in the country, unlike the five NATO countries that store stockpiles of U.S. nuclear weapons on their soil –- Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Turkey.

But Finland submitted its NATO accession documents without the exceptions that Denmark and Norway have insisted on to allow them to prohibit nuclear weapons. This leaves Finland’s nuclear posture uniquely ambiguous, despite President Sauli Niinistö’s promise that “Finland has no intention of bringing nuclear weapons onto our soil.”

The lack of discussion about the implications of Finland joining an explicitly nuclear military alliance is troubling, and has been attributed to an overly hasty accession process in the context of the war in Ukraine, as well as to Finland’s tradition of unquestioning popular trust in its national government.

Perhaps most regrettable is that Finland’s membership in NATO marks the end of the nation’s admirable tradition as a global peacemaker. Former Finnish President Urho Kekkonen, an architect of the policy of cooperation with the neighboring Soviet Union and a champion of world peace, helped craft the Helsinki Accords, a historic agreement signed in 1975 by the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada and every European nation (except Albania) to improve detente between the Soviet Union and the West.

Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari continued the peacemaking tradition and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his critical efforts to resolve international conflicts from Namibia to Aceh in Indonesia to Kosovo (which was bombed by NATO).

Speaking at the U.N. in September 2021, President Niinistö seemed anxious to follow this legacy. “A willingness of adversaries and competitors to engage in dialogue, to build trust, and to seek common denominators – that was the essence of the Helsinki Spirit. It is precisely that kind of a spirit that the entire world, and the United Nations, urgently needs,” he said. “I am convinced that the more we speak about the Helsinki Spirit, the closer we get to rekindling it – and to making it come true.”

Of course, it was Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine that drove Finland to abandon the “Helsinki Spirit” in favor of joining NATO. But if Finland had resisted the pressures on it to rush into NATO membership, it could instead now be joining the “Peace Club” being formed by Brazilian President Lula to revive negotiations to end the war in Ukraine.

Sadly for Finland and the world, it looks like the Helsinki Spirit will have to move forward -– without Helsinki.

Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. She is the co-author, with Nicolas J.S. Davies, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books in November 2022. Other books include, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2018); Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection (2016); Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control (2013); Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart (1989), and with Jodie Evans, Stop the Next War Now (2005).

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist and a researcher with CODEPINK. He is the co-author, with Medea Benjamin, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books and the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

This article is from Common Dreams

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

38 comments for “Finland Abandons the ‘Helsinki Spirit’

  1. Realist
    April 13, 2023 at 18:27

    I.J. Scambling

    My tone changes in my last paragraph because I want the Finns to be sure about what they are getting themselves into by abandoning neutrality and embracing the American-led, wolf pack-like, full spectrum, in-your-face confrontation of the country being opposed and just about always demonised in every way possible–no matter how nice, fair or just they may try to be. The Finns, and all the boo-rah unquestioning supporters of American policy throughout Nato, have got to know that they have not joined the Mickey Mouse Club.

    It must be assumed that their motives and means of achieving their goals are totally (or at least mostly) simpatico with the hate speech trash talk routinely delivered by the gangsters in Washington, along with the insufferable, inappropriate and all out of proportion sanctions, assassinations and other acts of aggression delivered by the American military, intelligence agencies and pandering financial establishment.

    I say to Finland, as President Bill Clinton used to say to his many opponents, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, you’d better stay on the porch.” Some long forgotten sage also said, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” These things should all serve as a caution to a nation like Finland, which once had no enemies and a lot of income from manufacturing and free trade because of it. Weren’t they once characterised in the polls as “the happiest country on Earth?” Or am I confusing them with Denmark? If I ever had to suggest an appropriate spirit animal for Finland, I guess I’d have chosen the reindeer, like the gentle herd animals that pull Santa’s sleigh. It’s like now they want me to flash on timber wolves when their country’s street cred comes up. It must also be questioned why such a people well known for their social reticence would want to be forever linked with an outspoken, toe-the-line Nazi, bane of all mothers throughout Ukraine and acquisitive chiseler and political insider like Zelensky. Basically, I was illustrating to the Fins, through my rhetoric, how they would now be treated after changing their alliances. What they did was not a trivial matter done just to be fashionable. They did not choose to run with the beautiful people, always putting their judgement to question.

  2. Realist
    April 13, 2023 at 17:00

    For the biggest eye opener you will experience unless Lord Biden and his coterie of Russia-hating Neo-Con apparachiks are impeached within the next few days, go find Judge Nepolitano’s interview of Colonel Doug MacGregor on You-Tube earlier today wherein the source of the recent shocking security leaks describing the entire truth of military operations in Ukraine (which is 180 degrees rotated from the actual reality) is discussed in great detail. Either the US government and its compliant military are totally incompetent, totally facile and without a shred of honor, or both.

    One very real possibility is that the whole unfolding scenario is now being contrived to manufacture a possible off ramp from a conflict which seems to presage a nuclear war as its only allowable denouement. Obviously, the Biden administration is so dug in on this outcome that only the deconstruction and removal of the present American regime will allow such an off ramp and an end to this existential crisis for all of civilisation. Lord Biden must be dumped and blamed first (yes, a scapgoat seems required at this point) before taking the next step to ceasing hostilities and brokering a lasting peace. I’m not saying that the judge and/or colonel floats this or believes it, but it seems a very plausible way to get to the promised land whilst traversing Mordor itself. (Imagine Gandalf conjuring up instant new interstate pavement with a wave of his wand.) What else might this unfolding story look like to you? There might well be many other plots equally based in misdirection and skullduggery. And ditching the lunatic in the WH may just start a war here, back in the USSA.

    • IJ Scambling
      April 13, 2023 at 18:42

      Two youthful figures play in the Napolitano interviews: 1) the 21 year old who is said to be the one releasing the documents to his youthful buddies and 2) one of the buddies, in profile only, speaking of this leaker as heroic. This second figure is said to be even younger, and his remarks sound scripted to me, in terms of rapid delivery and language (perhaps coached is a better term as he–profiled as a teen–sounds like an adult praising the 21year old leaker: “He is not a Russian operative; he is not a Ukrainian operative. I’ll go as far as to say he’s not on the eastern side of the world”).

      Possibly all this IS contrived in a similar way to the yacht story, a further step in blame-shifting, so as to excuse Biden and other Lieutenants of the Establishment. Otherwise they seem to be the all-time chumps of an escalating fiasco. It seems too optimistic to hope there actually is a split or off-ramp to get rid of Biden, if I understand “off-ramp” properly.


    • LeZ
      April 14, 2023 at 00:08

      “One very real possibility is that the whole unfolding scenario is now being contrived to manufacture a possible off ramp …”.

      More likely someone within the state apparatus wishing to avoid, for US prestige, an Afghanistan outcome at the hands of the Russian Armed Forces, which could not be ignored.

  3. Renate
    April 13, 2023 at 12:50

    So now we get some explanation for the nation’s stupidity. War is a big and profitable business and the Fins Military Industrial Complex, as little as it might be, wants a piece of the pie. The de facto NATO membership did not come up in the news either.
    It was to be expected that money is the real motivation to become a NATO member. Politicians and MIC money are joined at the hips.

  4. Realist
    April 13, 2023 at 01:56

    Reply to Robert Crosman.

    Wake up, pal, the extremist policies of death and destruction by the American government which come within an eyelash of terminating the very existence of all human civilisation through a nuclear war that is being incessantly provoked by no one other than Washington is more than worthy of an isolated puff of anger, especially since most of the American population seems to be sleep-walking, with no opinion, through this whole outrageous drama, which, in the end, is done for no reason other than to keep the hegemons in Washington barking orders to the rest of the world in perpetuity. My opinions on that matter are well-founded and protected under my constitutional right to free speech whether you agree with them or not, and whether you know my name or not. My name is of no particular use to you if you wish merely to debate the issues, only the facts that I bring to the table are. I could call myself Robert Crosman, and it would not matter as to the substance of my messages. Certainly most of the verbiage issued by the US government in support of its methodical mass murder, sanctified with “patriotic” nostrums by the politicians and their fixers in the mass media, is far more bombastic than anything I deliver in its opposition. Unlike most, I choose not to suffer these fools gladly–at least not all the time. Just maybe I have family members or professional colleagues contentious enough to assail me in a constant state of verbal warfare if they knew I was the origin of political dissent or public debate of things THEY consider settled and fodder for arguments I do not seek. Maybe I should be complemented rather than condemned by personally trying to keep the peace. Counter to your own personal opinion, it just might free up people to speak with more honesty and candor if all such commentary were done anonymously. I do not need the ego gratification of seeing my name in print. Been there, done that many times in far different contexts. Your reliance on the old chestnut that anyone who disagrees with the dictates of the deep state, its “elected” mouthpieces, or the highly cultivated “conventional wisdom” (brainwashing is a better term) must a “Russian bot” or some undercover agent of Putin is the last refuge of someone who has run out of rhetorical bullets. Don’t you people feel like real dopes when you trot that cheap shot out yet again?

  5. Cerena
    April 12, 2023 at 19:12

    “Of course, it was Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine …”
    — Was not it the genocide of Russian people in the new republics in eastern Ukraine (they asked formally for Russian protection) and the discovery of the INVASION plans by Ukraine/NATO which prompted the Russian Federation to act? Ukraine has been occupied by the US since the Zionist/Nazi putsch in Kiev in 2014. The putsch was followed by the US/NATO-run Nazification of Ukraine. The majority of Americans do not have the sensitivity to realize what kind of historical memories infuse the Russian psyche considering that 27 million Soviets died in a war against fascist Germany and her allies. Almost every Russian family has a tragic story to tell about the loss of loved ones during the War. Picture the US zionists cooperating with the Ukrainian Nazi Party – such as Nuland-Kagan’s collaboration with Andrij Parubyj, the founder of the Ukrainian Nazi Party, during the 2014 putsch. The whole US/NATO enterprise in Ukraine is an enormous cynical sacrilege against victims of WWII.

    • daryl
      April 13, 2023 at 01:59

      We have never been able to forgive Haiti, or Cuba or for sure Russia for not towing the US imperium and world dominance.
      I shudder to think how we would treat the world if we succeeded to dominate.
      Look how we run this country now. We are killing ourselves and ready to bust, supporting our military.
      The stress is showing, with our madness complete I shudder to think.

      • Valerie
        April 13, 2023 at 12:49

        Probably why a lot of people are on fentanyl and drugs daryl. They can’t handle the reality.

    • LeZ
      April 14, 2023 at 00:12

      ““Of course, it was Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine …”.
      As if the leadership of Finland do not know the history, stretching back to early 200, more or less.

      The Finland Government puts its country at serious risk as it sets itself up for national suicide, just like The Ukraine next door.
      The only pathway for Washington – double down and so . . .

  6. John Woodford
    April 12, 2023 at 15:24

    Amen to Realist. The pitiable countries whose leaders decided to join the side of the richer and better- armed thugs want to make $$$ in the cancerous arms industry, the last refuge in late-capitalists’ decaying economy.

  7. Daryl
    April 12, 2023 at 14:41

    Hitler’s white european white race lives on in Europe and US.
    14% of the world population.
    Long entitled to control it all
    is there any hope for us to come to terms with reality

  8. Elsa Collins
    April 12, 2023 at 14:41

    It is very sad and shameful! , that Finland that used to be a neutral country and my family and I used to respect and admire, in past surveys showed that the people in Finland was the most happy people in the world.
    The Finland’s decision to become a member of NATO, that is an organisation that incite wars, and does not know how to have
    a constructive dialogue and diplomacy. Finland is not a save place any more.
    Now your sovereignty means nothing! Now you are a subservient.
    With love from London

  9. Mile
    April 12, 2023 at 14:16

    Stupid people are easily seduced/ misled.

    Finland will not have much time to regret this decision.

  10. Vera
    April 12, 2023 at 12:24

    A topic of interest and mostly running in the right direction.
    Until we read, “ Of course, it was Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine that drove Finland to abandon the “Helsinki Spirit” in favor of joining NATO.”
    “Of course..”

    We may ask what drove Russia’s decision to take military action against Ukraine? Perhaps NATO’s decision to drive East and the slaughter of thousands of Russian speakers by a US vassal regime?

    Basically we have here the Russophobia which is the Achilles heel of the US peace movement, the very thing that the US imperialists rely on to keep support for their war alive.

  11. Martin S.
    April 12, 2023 at 12:07

    Thank you for the very nice article.
    Let’s be positive: We do congratulate the 7 smart parliament members who voted against joining NATO.

  12. Vesa Sainio
    April 12, 2023 at 11:49

    For me the Finlands NATO membership mean that i despise my home country. It does not feel any more to be dear to me. This is awful. Why Finland, the once respected neutral peace maker turns to the dark side? Untfortunately the signs have been there for a few years. The political elite just waited their moment. Finland was already backing the Juan Guaido with other Us poodles.
    The only hope now is the collapse of Nato. Lets hope it happens preferably sooner than later.

  13. michael888
    April 12, 2023 at 11:42

    I spent a year living and working in Finland in the mid ’90s. The Finns were proud of their short history, their defeating the Russians (but being aligned with NAZI Germany, they lost much territory at war’s end). Still, they had a good relationship with the Soviet Union (in large part because Finnish General Mannerheim– an old-school “simpleton”– refused to attack Leningrad from the north, saying there was no need to kill women and children, much to the chagrin of the NAZIs attacking from the south.) Finland was the neutral site of choice for diplomacy between the Soviets and the West in the Cold War years. More recently former Soviet states have become such diplomacy sites. The Finns also have made up an important part of UN Peacekeeping forces (friends there told me it was the easiest way to buy a nice car and avoid taxes), but having that long border with Russia, they have always kept a strong military relative to most European countries.
    Western propaganda had much to do with Finland joining NATO.

  14. Robert Crosman
    April 12, 2023 at 11:33

    I grew up in the 1950’s in Washington D.C., where some of my friends and classmates were the children of high government officials. As I got into high school, I became aware that these kids’ fathers were privy to classified information that the public had little or no inkling of, and that this inside intelligence was worrying, sometimes terrifying, them. Government officials, in other words, had livelier fears of Soviet aggression – potentially nuclear – than did the general public. In effect, they lived through dozens of Cuban missile crises that never occurred.

    This, I think, is another reason (besides the weapons industry’s influence) that government leaders, even in Finland, are so worried about a possible Russian invasion that they are rushing to join NATO. They simply are bombarded with inside information that is perpetually warning of threats that are either invented by spy organizations eager to justify their existence, or are overstated, and turn out to be ephemeral. When one country takes over another, the populace goes on very much as it always did, while the old regime’s leaders go into exile or are killed off. Finland’s government leaders have more to lose than its average citizens, and hence are more terrified of Soviet invasion, while they can more easily live with the U.S. bossing them around, but leaving them to enjoy their sense of importance and their limousines.

  15. Robert Crosman
    April 12, 2023 at 11:05

    Passion can motivate us to write a strongly worded comment on an article, but uncontrolled passion can lead to excesses of style that deprive our comment of the credibility it would otherwise have. Such is the case with the lengthy and passionate comment by “Realist.” Everything he or she writes may be correct, but the animus in which their allegations are bathed projects a picture of a mind so disturbed by strong emotion that one comes to doubt the allegations. And hiding behind a pseudonym – “Realist” – further erodes the commenter’s credibility. I think responders to opinion pieces should be required to use their actual names, and I can think of no valid reason for hiding their true identity. Such a rule would certainly lead to more temperate, reasonable responses. After all, “Realist” may be the cover-name for some Russian propagandist. The best evidence against this suspicion is the artlessness of his or her rhetoric, which otherwise is their fatal flaw.

    • Valerie
      April 13, 2023 at 03:14

      Mr. Crosman, now you prompt me to wonder why you did not address your response directly to “realist”. And why, if you objected to his/her passion and artlessness, did you not simply ignore it. Realist is a regular commenter here and as the name suggests,  maybe like myself, neither an optimist or pessimist, but a “realist” and views situations as they really are.
      There is a lot to be said for passion and passionate outcry.

      • Robert Crosman
        April 13, 2023 at 13:48

        No sale, Valerie. Probably EVERY respondent to a news or opinion piece thinks of themself as a “realist.” I certainly consider myself much more sensible than the borderline unbalanced responder who calls him-/herself a “Realist.” One test of anyone’s realism is their ability to control their emotions while arguing matters of fact and value. Fox News, for example, doesn’t get to judge itself “fair and balanced.” That’s for its audience to judge, and in their case the claim is laughable. I don’t recall reading previous responses by this person, but in the case of the entry under discussion, they fail to sound either reasonable or realistic. Whether or not “Realist’s” material assertions are correct, their rhetoric exposes them as unbalanced and unreliable.

        As for why I didn’t address “Realist” directly, I made my remarks to anyone and everyone who reads these comments, which are not meant to be a private channel of conversation between two individuals.

    • IJ Scambling
      April 13, 2023 at 11:18

      The problem of “passion” you speak of seems particularly to apply to Realist’s final paragraph, and I would like to offer two responses, one to you and the second to Realist. I feel confident that many of the comments at CN, including Realist’s and your own, are carefully scripted and thought about, not flippant and insubstantial. The problem with making comments here is being able to muster language suitable, and impelling, for the crisis the world is facing. In short, we (globally) appear to be facing an enemy equally as pathological and insane as that under Hitler’s manias in WWII. Persuading on that reality must be fact-based and tempered, but if tempered too mildly will not have the effect needed to “wake up” an audience the words are aimed at.

      Recognizing this problem of “passion” in Realist’s final paragraph assists a larger understanding of his argument, it seems to me, and my only objection to his remarks here (and probably not intended by Realist) is the generalizing that we see far too often today, including right here at CN in the comments. That is, that all of us are responsible for the criminality and stupidity of our leadership. Perhaps some will say, “That’s right, we all are responsible”, but I would argue against this. It is not reasonable to expect a people under the infantilizing programs they are subjected to, causing their essential powerlessness no matter how acute their conclusions are as to the problem, to have the power to act effectively. That is too simplistic, in my view. It is quite possible that the situation we are now in is beyond human control whatever, and to be left to “nature’s course.”

      So, when you say “the artlessness of his or her rhetoric,” that is debatable on the question of how strongly asserted, with anger and even crude expression, the comment should be as suitable to the issue at hand. Also, casting doubt on Realist’s identity is unbecoming of yourself as a sort of possible smear, hurting your own expression. The result, for me observing both comments, is sympathy for you both in dealing with difficult matters that test the limits of human expression in being able to describe and assess the mire humanity has come into at this time.

  16. Vera Gottlieb
    April 12, 2023 at 10:17

    As I see it, the real tragedy is that Finland – and all of Europe, are going deaf, blind and dumb…trying to please the US – rushing to become a US vassal state.

    • Mile
      April 12, 2023 at 14:19

      If there were any good in the souls of such people, God would not make them so stupid and blind.

  17. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    April 12, 2023 at 10:14

    It is ironic that the Helsinki Spirit that helped consolidate detente under Cold WAR has been despirited by Helsinki during Hot PEACE ! Does this mean the Finnish are finish as a neutral force ?

  18. Packard
    April 12, 2023 at 10:06

    Can’t we all just get along?

    It is hard, if not outright impossible to go back to 1997. If we could, wouldn’t it be wonderful to imagine the victorious EU/NATO nations as they magnanimously declared the former Warsaw Pact countries to be forever neutral, demilitarized, and open to free trade for all comers. Finland’s entry into NATO is only the latest fail at international diplomacy.

    It never had to be the way we currently have it. Nor did America need to interfere as it did these past twenty five years in Eastern European politics and its own domestic affairs. D*mn!

  19. Francis Lee
    April 12, 2023 at 09:43

    The rise and rise of the political/military classes throughout the EU has shaped their future and the future of their people. In this respect they have been led by the nose by their mentors in Washington. This neo-conservative bloc has been and is their role model – they will do everything that the US deems right and proper. Each group of central and eastern Europe states has been particularly gung-ho and willingly recruited and dragged into the vortex of the neo-liberal imperial mission. The neo-conservative mission creep has subsumed almost the entirety of the Euro-states under the leadership of the US. Incidentally the electorate of many western European states were not informed of this policy.

    So what was Putin supposed to do when the Ukie army moved up to the line of contact and started shelling and killing up to 14000.00 Russian speakers at the door of the Don Bass exactly? The hastily recruited Donbass militias were fortunately up to the task and dealt two defeats for the Ukie army at Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo (2015). Putin kept a discreet silence. Not to be outdone the Ukie army was trained, re-equipped (by the West) and wound themselves up for another (second) shot of course.
    But second time around Putin had no option, and was probably under pressure from the Russian public opinion to stop the Ukrainian war-horse. The rest is history. Putin didn’t want this war, and I suspect that most of the western states – apart that is from the usual suspects, Poland, the Baltics, and now Finland – didn’t want it either

    But I suppose that now we will have to wait for yet another round of neo-con of warmongering and the latest debacle from the powers that be of the West.

  20. mgr
    April 12, 2023 at 08:30

    Tragic. It seems that there is always a financial motive in these decisions, not necessarily to benefit the broader economy but specifically the “lords of war” of the arms industry. After seeing the way this is going and the expanding negative effects on their cultures in other countries and especially in the US, you would expect an outbreak of common sense. But the relatively few involved in this short term and narrow profiteering are nothing if not rabid in desire for a payoff. The banality of evil…

    One note, the Russian decision to begin the SMO was to prevent an imminent blood bath of the ethic Russia Ukrainians in the Dombass region by the Azov led Ukrainian military. It was obviously not an easy decision nor was it one that Russia desired. Instead Russia invested a decade of diplomacy to prevent it. All of which was rejected out of hand by the US and the West. Not to mention, if Russia had left the citizens of Dombass to their fate, is there any indication that that would have prevented further NATO aggression? Obviously not. Thus, saying “Russia’s decision to invade…” lacks any context, as if this was a casual or even a desired choice. In contrast to this, invading and occupying countries for no reason at all except to expand the Western empire is certainly modus operandi for America and its Western allies. The list is long, obscene and brutal.

    Lies repeated and not challenged become a false truth and the basis for more lies.

  21. Paul Citro
    April 12, 2023 at 08:00

    Finland has joined the Ground Zero Club. That is the place where you wake up each morning and wonder if your country will be leveled by atomic bombs that day.

    • Valerie
      April 12, 2023 at 11:30

      That’s one way to describe it Paul. “Ground Zero Club”.

  22. onwards
    April 12, 2023 at 05:35

    My above comments make a mockery of the authors further statement that Finland seeks protection from NATO. They are cockeyed, they need protection from the US.

  23. onwards
    April 12, 2023 at 05:14

    It is irresponsible for such respected journalists to make key ambiguous/false comments about RUS ‘invading’ UKR without context.
    Such hanging provocative statements help build the US hegemonic effort to wage war against Russia and from there a nuclear conflict.
    These journalists know the US has done everything to start and prolong a proxy war with Russia, the end game being RUS regime change.
    They know UKR has waged war against east UKR since 2014, that a 60,000 UKR troop border build up provoked RUS to strike first. They know RUS made several attempts for peace with UKR but the final successful conclusion in Turkey was smashed by the US/UK.
    And further more the above are just some of the salient factors.

    • Selina
      April 12, 2023 at 12:19

      Bravo! Context determines meanings!

  24. Realist
    April 12, 2023 at 04:06

    The US must make some powerful threats against these formerly neutral countries that it has been intimidating to join its gang of thugs called Nato. Certainly Russia has never been the aggressor in this long sad tale beginning with the coup that the US master-minded against the legitimate government of Ukraine in order to install its hand-picked gang of genocidal neo-Nazis to head that country. America spent the next eight years escalating tensions, acts of economic war and acts of genocidal violence by Ukraine against anyone of Russian descent living within its disputed borders. It lied precipitously to stall for time (8 years worth!) while building up Ukraine’s armed forces and arsenal, as it pretended to support the implementation of the Minsk 2 Accords that would have established a permanent peace merely by granting the ethnic Russians, who make up nearly half the population, some small degree of autonomy and self-government without secession from Ukraine.

    The most respected European heads of state were recruited to sponsor this treaty in the UN Security Council. They all lied at the behest of the USA. Eventually, it became conspicuously obvious that the Ukrainians were not going to stop gratuitously killing and maiming Russians and that, with 200,000 freshly recruited and trained Ukie troops, thanks to Nato and the US, poised around the borders of the Donbas oblasts getting ready to invade and massacre civilians as the self-declared Nazi Ukrainians had done before during WWII, President Vladimir Putin felt morally constrained by a genuine “obligation to protect” those vulnerable ethnic Russians of the Donbas. Hence the very reluctant and initially restrained police action (rather than an unrestrained war) by the Russian troops to prevent the carnage and restore order to this potentially explosive pot deliberately kept boiling by the USA and Nato.

    The trigger purposely chosen by the US and Nato to force this war veritably defines the word “provocation.” Alarmingly very few, if any, countries in Europe still objectively view such world events the way the rest of the human race does. Either countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, the UK and the rest of the gang of 31 in Europe calling themselves Nato do not view the shocking violence and deaths caused by Ukraine against ethnic Russians as a horrifying great evil, or perhaps rather they enjoy it and wish to join in on the fun. They certainly cannot hold that the killing is wrong, or that they find no attraction to it, and, at the same time, jettison a policy that has successfully precluded either of these things for the 75 straight years cited by the author of the opinion piece. The facts are that they have deliberately ditched an effective peace-keeping policy and embraced membership in an organisation that has glutted itself with conflict, pain, suffering and aggression.

    The question for Finland and Sweden is why have you so emphatically turned to the dark side? Why have you become committed warmongers along with most of the rest of Europe? Because the committed warmongers in America asked you to? Or intimidated you to? Do you enjoy seeing other third parties take an outrageous beat down by a gang of thugs–of which you are now a committed member? Your actions make me sick. They are totally psychopathic, which you, in your pathology, would somehow excuse as virtuous. It’s not only Russia that you miscreants treat this way. You show that same baseless animosity to China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and several other nations as well. What do they all have in common? Nothing more than the United States instructs (or demands) that you hate them and give them nothing but grief, and like the loyal but cowardly weasels you are, you kiss American ass and faithfully comply, no matter how servile and mentally deranged it makes you look.

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      April 12, 2023 at 10:27

      A superb plea on behalf of human sanity ! But the Zombifiedd Western elites, unlike their more sober publics, are too gravy drunk to stick up for reason !

    • Michael O Malloy
      April 12, 2023 at 10:29

      Realist. Well said, you are spot on!

    • JonnyJames
      April 12, 2023 at 12:04

      “Finnish law prohibits the country from possessing nuclear weapons or allowing them in the country, unlike the five NATO countries that store stockpiles of U.S. nuclear weapons on their soil –- Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Turkey…”

      What if Russia put nuclear weapons very close to the US border? Golly, has that ever happened before?

      Pity that most people, even highly-educated, presumably well-informed people are blissfully unaware, or in deep denial of the facts.

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