Report: Putin ‘wants to regain Finland’

In 1939, as WWII was brewing in central Europe, Finland repelled Russian invasion and preserved its independence in one of modern history's greatest military upsets. It was called the Winter War, and Finns secured the advantage using versatile ski troopers on snowy, cold terrain.

In 1939, as WWII began in central Europe, Finland repelled Russian invasion, preserving its independence in one of  history’s greatest military upsets. It was called the Winter War. Finns secured an advantage using versatile ski troopers on snowy, cold terrain. PHOTO: Finnish military archives

A former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his ex-boss wants to reestablish the Russian state in its original, pre-Bolshevik form. Among other jaw-dropping targets ranging from the Baltic states to parts of Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus, Putin apparently has eyes on reclaiming the independent Nordic nation of Finland at some point in his rule.

It was in an Adam Withnall story in Great Britain’s Independent where I saw this:

According to Andrej Illarionov, the President’s chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005, Mr Putin seeks to create “historical justice” with a return to the days of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Speaking to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Mr Illarionov warned that Russia will argue that the granting of independence to Finland in 1917 was an act of “treason against national interests”.

“Putin’s view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors,” Mr Illarionov said.

Finland’s geopolitical status might seem an off-the-wall topic for a regional blog dedicated to Northern Minnesota, but there is reason this matters. Among the many ethnic groups that shaped the history of the Iron Range, none were more influential than Finnish immigrants. The Finns arrived fully literate and were instrumental both in the organization of unions in the mines and the settlement of the land around the central cities of the Mesabi, Vermilion and Cuyuna iron ranges.

Aside from the general poverty that spurred most European immigrants to settle in the United States, Finns arrived for two other reasons: “Red Finns” were pushed out by Czarist Russia for being socialists, “White Finns” were pushed out by socialists for not being socialists. Regardless, Finns arrived in America ticked off and eager to build a new world of their liking. They concentrated in large communities, especially in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and upstate New York.

In all cases, conflict between Russia and Finland was probably the biggest reason for the massive influx of Finnish immigrants that changed the Iron Range and, really, the whole American labor movement.

And here we go again …


  1. John Ramos says

    This is crazy. When I was a kid in the U.P., my Finnish-American mother would tell me stories about the Winter War that she had heard, that highlighted the Finns’ inventiveness and sisu in fighting the Russians. In one of them, the Finns in a town that the Russians were bombing shut off all their lights and set candles afloat in a nearby lake at night. The Russians bombed the hell out of that lake.

  2. We’ve something in common John, my Finnish-Finnish-American parents saw the light and hated the evil commune socialistic Russian ideology. Being hard working business owners on the Mesabi Range, they had to keep their thoughts to themselves though (other than in the sauna). Unfortunately, some Red-Finns yet today haven’t seen that light…

  3. Putin appears to be completely insane. This is bad. Hopefully there are still some sane generals left in Russia to stop him.

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