If Finland Joins NATO, it’s ‘Game Over’ for Russia

Wes O'Donnell
6 min readMay 26, 2022

Like some Greek tragedy playing out on the world stage, Russia’s senseless invasion of Ukraine set events in motion that will ultimately make the Russian Federation far weaker than it was before the invasion.

Over the past three months, the shockwave could be felt throughout Europe as Putin’s incompetent military began to rack up a tally of civilian deaths and needless property destruction in Ukraine.

Now, Finland is breaking with a long-standing tradition of neutrality, a stance they held throughout the Cold War, and is rushing to join NATO with overwhelming popular support.

A bitter history between Finland and Russia

Finland and Russia share an 830-mile land border which has had the historical effect of binding the two nations closely together.

During the Russian Revolution of 1917, Finland broke away from Russian influence to become fully independent. But after Stalin had consolidated power, he sought to bring Finland back under Russian control.

The result was a series of conflicts between the Soviet Union and Finland.

The first among them was the Winter War of 1939 in which Stalin made modest territorial gains and expanded Russia’s border west into Finland.

Finnish soldier during the Winter War. Public Domain.

When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Finland took the opportunity to gain back its lost territory and pushed into Russian territory, taking East Karelia in the process.

By 1944, Finland and the Soviet Union agreed on a cease fire if Finland would recognize its earlier border and agree to “de-nazify” its territory.

Finland agreed and expelled Germany in what was called the Lapland War.

When WWII formally concluded, Finland was forced to pay $300 million (equivalent to about $6 billion in 2022) in reparations to the Soviet Union, accept partial responsibility for the war, and acknowledge that it had been a Nazi ally. Finland was also forced to refuse Marshall Plan aid from the U.S.

A 1948 treaty between Finland and Russia would guarantee a neutral Finland for the next several decades and free up the Soviets from worrying about their 830-mile border with Finland.

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge