Acquiescing on the ‘Finlandization’ of Ukraine would in effect mean reversing NATO’s open-door policy, director of the Foreign Policy Institute (Välispoliitika Instituut) Kristi Raik says.
French President Emmanuel Macron allegedly made comments that writing-off Ukraine in such a way was potentially on the cards, ahead of a lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday.
Raik called such an outcome: “Very bad as it would mean an understanding that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO – that’s what it really means,” Raik explained.
“If Macron thought about it now – but what else could he have been thinking of, because that is what Finlandization amounted to during the Cold War, whereby Finland did not belong to any Western trans-national organizations,” she continued.
French daily Le Figaro (link in French) reports that Macron confided with several journalists while en route to Moscow by plane that the “Finlandization” of Ukraine was one of several topics to be on what turned out to be a very long table during the tête-à-tête with the Russian leader.
Ce vers quoi nous devons aller, c’est la désescalade. Nous en connaissons les termes. Grandes questions de sécurité collective, question ukrainienne, situation sécuritaire en Biélorussie et dans toute la région : avançons. pic.twitter.com/sXEDLGf4jO — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) February 7, 2022
Raik said that this option would be wholly incompatible with a stance of Ukraine being fully sovereign in deciding for herself which international organizations show would like to belong to and what her fundamental security policy structure would look like.
This would represent a intrinsic change, Raik added.
The Foreign Policy Institute is part of think-tank the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS).
Finland a non-NATO member state to the present
Finlandization as a term arose in West Germany in the late 1960s and is often taken perjoratively.
It refers to a country taking the line of not challenging a powerful neighbor, particularly on foreign and defense issues, while maintaining its own sovereignty and as such is supposed to summarize Finland’s stance towards the Soviet Union following World War Two.
From a Finnish perspective the policy was one of Realpolitik, and also led to a certain amount of censorship of criticism of the Soviet Union in the Finnish media and publications during the cold war.
The period of high Finlandization corresponds most closely with the nearly three-decades-long period of Urho Kekkonen’s prime ministership (1954-1956) and presidency (1956-1982) of Finland, the earlier stages of which the Finnish leader famously became hunting and drinking buddies with Soviet General Secretary Nikita Krushchev.
Finland itself remains a non-NATO member to the present despite recent implied calls for the country to join the alliance given the current security picture, and in turn Russian demands that it not do so.
Finland’s premier, Sanna Marin, has ruled out NATO accession during her term in office.
Russian president says compromise à la Macron possible
Following five-hour-long talks with French leader Emmanuel Macron on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that, while culpability for rising tensions over Ukraine is fairly and squarely the West’s fault, he was prepared to look for compromise, at least along the lines of those proposed by Macron.
“A number of [Macron’s] ideas, proposals… are possible as a basis for further steps,” Putin said, according to France24, adding that: “We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone.”
Macron, who is due to meet with with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday, said after the meeting that: “President Putin assured me of his readiness to engage.”
There is no security for the Europeans if there is no security for Russia,” he added, while proposals include no further military action, strategic dialogue and efforts to resolve the ongoing insurgency war in eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014.
US president: No Nord Stream 2 if Russia attacks Ukraine
U.S. President Joe Biden also hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Washington on Monday, to discuss Ukraine and the position of the under-development Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which links Russia to Germany but which Biden said will be halted should Russia make any incursion into Ukraine.
U.S. officials say Moscow has assembled around 110,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, with that number likely to rise to 150,000 by mid-month, a figure which, the officials say, would be adequate to conduct a full-scale invasion.
Macron has put the current figure at 125,000 Russian military personnel, France24 reports.
While Russia has demanded an end to eastward NATO expansion – and in fact a roll-back to the alliance’s 1997 borders (Estonian joined in 2004) – the U.K. and now Germany have pledged extra troops to the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroups in Estonia and in Lithuania respectively.
The U.K. has also pledged extra troops to Poland in the form of elite Royal Marines of 45 Commando, joining those personnel already on the ground there.
Britain’s defense secretary Ben Wallace, and its foreign secretary, Liz Truss, are expected to visit Moscow for talks later this week.
Estonian MP and Riigikogu Foreign Affairs Committee chair Marko Mihkelson (Reform) is in Moscow at the time of writing, aiming to present Estonia’s views on the current foreign and security situation.