Finland is beginning to worry about what it perceives as Russian propaganda against the country. One of the things that has raised concerns recently is the fact that Russia seems to be raising questions about Finland’s history. Russia has been sending out messages regarding Finland’s independence that the country obtained in 1917. The foreign power appears to be questioning its legality. Finland is trying to not be too sensitive about it. But it is taking the situation seriously. As Russia is trying to step up its role as a key international player in geopolitical affairs.
Finland and Russia are Uneasy Neighbors
Finland and Russia are neighbors. They have a border that is 1,340 km long, approximately 830 miles. The history of the relations between the two countries is difficult. Finland was once part of the Russian Empire. But now Finland is an independent nation-state that is part of the European Union. The country enjoys peace and stability within the European community. So, of course, would like to keep things the same way.
But Russia has been drawing Finland’s attention with its recent actions. For a start, the annexation of Crimea in 2014 did not sit well with any country that was formerly part of Russia. Even if it took place by way of a referendum, it made Russia look like a large international power with expansionistic ambitions. Russia’s military boasting regarding the Baltic Sea raises concerns and makes key players nervous. The European Union and Russia share access to the Baltic Sea. But peace is decidedly part of the European acquis, whereas peace is something that hasn’t been on Russia’s mind lately.
Finland Believes It Is the Target of Media Attacks
Earlier this month, two European countries in the Baltic region accused Russia of interfering. Finland and Estonia both said that Russian fighter jets entered their airspace. Another move by Russia that is making everyone nervous is its reorganization of ground forces. Russia has started to move nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad. This is an issue because the Kaliningrad enclave is close to the border with Poland and Lithuania. Both EU countries.
Markku Mantila is the head of the communication department of the Finnish government. He is, among other things, responsible for monitoring any outside attempts at influencing Finland. Whether it’s regarding an official statement or more subtle ways of trying to sway foreign policy. He says that Finland has been facing media attacks that were clearly orchestrated by the Kremlin.
“We believe this aggressive influencing from Russia aims at creating distrust between leaders and citizens, and to have us make decisions harmful to ourselves. It also aims to make citizens suspicious about the European Union, and to warn Finland over not joining NATO.”
Said Markku Mantila.
Last month, Russian media reported on an isolated incident that it turned into a condemnation of Finnish society and values. Child protection authorities made the decision to take into custody the children of a Russian family that was living in Finland. The media report called the Finnish authorities “cold-blooded”. It also claimed that the reason for which the children were taken into custody was their Russian nationality.
Image source: here.