How worried should Russia be about Finland?

Western media sources are trying to rattle Russians into thinking their country’s actions in Ukraine backfired and that they are in greater peril, owing to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

Some fans of Russia see a sudden Russian military offensive on Finland, like the attack deep into Ukraine in February, as a realistic possibility. Finland may well be much more vulnerable than Ukraine, as it has a much smaller military than Ukraine, although it boasts a better history of military success against Russia.

The Kremlin certainly is not happy about Finland joining NATO, saying an unspecified response will follow. Meanwhile, Sweden is a power in the Baltic Sea, but has already cooperated with the NATO powers and labelled Russia as hostile, and should have been expected to join sooner or later.

Russia should expect NATO in Finland

Finland has a small population and military, so the issue is more about NATO deploying to Finland than Finland joining NATO. Russia will have to target US forces in Finland, where it previously had no interest.

One can conclude that, far from being taken by surprise, Russia probably expected NATO to compensate elsewhere for the disappearance of Ukraine’s NATO membership prospects due to the Russian military presence in that country. That compensation is likely to now happen in Scandinavia, unless vetoed by NATO members such as Turkey.

Russians would be wrong to get too flustered about Finland joining NATO. One must remember that Finland was always tacitly aligned with the West. NATO and Finnish troops were likely under the mutual understanding that Finland would let Western forces use or pass through that territory during any conflict with Russia, even during the Cold War height of Finnish neutrality. Also, recall that Finland had no hesitation about even aligning with the Axis in World War Two to strike at Russia.

There is a certain peril to Russia associated with Finland’s entry to NATO, but it is solely a conventional military threat and a missile threat, perhaps mainly a threat that US military air power could be permanently based there. Finland’s population and military are likely to be too small to significantly threaten Russia, so Russian troops will be facing US and other NATO troops across that frontier. However, this is far less of a severe threat than what could arise in the much more populous Ukraine, so any claim that the Kremlin now has a bigger problem on its hands is just false.

Ukraine as NATO's 4GW base

Ukraine is highly populated, capable of enormous manpower. It was a viable springboard for fourth-generation warfare (4GW), which is the only reliable means of destroying targets in a nuclear-armed power's territory without provoking a direct conflict with it. Densely populated areas, zealous paramilitary formations practicing Syria-like hit and run tactics using pickup trucks, and sustained political extremism and grievances, all defined what was happening in Ukraine even before the Russian invasion. The war of 2014 to present created a threat in Ukraine that would have spilled over into Russian territory even if Russia did nothing. Supposing the West also funded mass protests within Russia with the aim of toppling Russian president Vladimir Putin, violence and insecurity could have spread across Russia, joined by people crossing over the border from Ukraine.

The Western strategy of creating security threats on the Russian periphery would eventually create conditions of civil war creeping into Russia like Syria, sufficient to destroy the Russian state but not obvious enough to trigger a retaliatory nuclear strike by Moscow. In fact, NATO would have used its current Ukraine pressure tactics to suppress Russia's ability to confront threats on its own territory at that stage, threatening intervention inside Russia if Putin uses chemical weapons, and all such claims that always arise under the NATO watch. What is being played out in Ukraine now is likely exactly what NATO intended to do inside Russia itself, sooner or later, all to the same applause of those who currently praise Ukraine. Putin's intervention likely pre-empted and forced the confrontation on Ukrainian territory rather than Russian territory, but even now there are Western officials expressing their support for the spill-over of the violence to Russian territory and US officials declaring that the violence is aimed to weaken Russia. If Western statements are not gaffes, then Russia's military action in Ukraine provides increased security for Russian people by keeping the confrontation as far outside Russia's borders and as far from Russian civilians as possible, which was also the Russian defence of their intervention in Syria. Such an action is, by definition, a success for the Russian soldier even if he is killed, if his task is to prevent Russian civilian deaths.

Finland as a quiet front

Finland isn't a place of great tension, extreme nationalism and unrest, like Ukraine. If Finland became a springboard to provoke Russia, it would be only a base for conventional warfare, and an ineffective one. As someone who walked in that part of Finland, I can tell you it is all densely wooded terrain in a sparsely populated wilderness, surely still unsuitable for conventional warfare as it was in the Winter War of 1940. Attacking forces would be constrained by the roads. As such, a war in Finland would be an almost entirely aerial and missile war, monitored by radar and missile troops and provoking mutual destruction if anything happened at all. Western attempts to undermine Russia have been desperately trying to dodge a direct military conflict and find unconventional forms of attack, such as those where local civilian hatreds and provocations can give rise to the murk of civil war, like in Syria from 2011 and Ukraine from 2014. Mere tourism-level numbers of Russians live in Finland compared to more than eight million in Ukraine, so Finland's internal affairs don't concern Russia.

On the Finnish frontier, following the country's accession to NATO, whichever side has aggressive intentions is going to either fail spectacularly to advance, or simply provoke everyone's destruction in a nuclear war, which means there will be no change in the calculus on either the Russian or NATO side. US nuclear missiles placed in Finland are a possibility, which will create an increased threat to the adjacent St Petersburg, but not much more than the existing Baltic NATO countries.

The possibility of US biological warfare facilities at the Russian border exists but does not require Finland's membership of NATO, if there is a determined US plan to introduce diseases into Russia as per Russian suspicions. It is hard to see how gaining a tenuous military hold on some forests in Finland at the expense of Russian soldiers' lives would provide much protection against such a threat, if it exists. A better move by Russia might simply be to create its own retaliatory biowarfare programs, as they developed their nuclear arsenal to counter the US.

Finnish cannon fodder for US wars

Finland reacted in a nervous and short-sighted way by deciding to join NATO and announcing it without debate. Its leaders underestimate the value of neutrality and the costs of NATO membership. They now risk selling their souls to a very dangerous neoconservative devil that still is in power in Washington and still believes the West’s destiny is to invade other continents to spread “democracy” and pacify hostile regimes.

Far from defending against Russian invaders, Finnish membership in NATO will most likely result in more Finnish troops dying in Middle Eastern countries invaded by the US in the future, and being deployed to Asia to confront China. NATO’s mission is being constantly expanded to a greater and more aggressive scope (“Global NATO”, as Liz Truss puts it), so there is no limit to what NATO may try to conquer next, with the increased cannon fodder and confidence it gets from the growing list of member states. There is also the potential for terrorist attacks to occur in Finland, as NATO countries all share the burdens, casualties, and inevitable consequences of the dream of Western conquest.