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Finland Receives Turkey’s Approval to Finally Join NATO

Iwinter The snow was as deep as 1 meter outside the small town of Suomussalmi, 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Helsinki. Get off the road and your thighs will sink, as the Soviet Army’s 44th Infantry Division discovered when it invaded Finland during the Winter War of 1939-40. Once its 14,000 troops, 530 trucks and 44 tanks passed through the border village of Raate, the Finns blew up its front and rear vehicles. For weeks, as the trapped team froze and starved, Finnish ski troops in white camouflage skied through the woods, cutting them to pieces. The division commander fought his way back to the Soviet lines, where commissars shot him dead.

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Most of the Soviet soldiers were Russians, but the soldiers on the Lat road were Ukrainians. Some 82 years later, the Ukrainians, fighting for their country, trap and crush a Russian army on the highway north of Kiev, using almost the same tactics as the Finns. Finland’s reaction was one of shock.It abandoned the policy of military neutrality originally imposed by the Soviet Union and applied to join NATO. Its neutral neighbor Sweden did the same.

Both applications have since been held by Türkiye. The main problem for the Turks is with Sweden, which it accuses of harboring various enemies. In January, Turkey suggested it might admit Finland alone, an idea the Finns initially rejected out of solidarity. Yet they have gradually embraced the idea. On March 17, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto visited Ankara. There, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would start the ratification process.

Mr Erdogan has left Sweden hanging in the balance by demanding the deportation of more than 100 people he calls “terrorists”, mainly Kurdish migrants. As Turkey’s president faces elections on May 14, bashing the Swedes is useful campaign material — all the more so since January when a far-right Danish politician burned a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm up.Let Finland come in to curry favor with the US, which has been delaying the sale of Turkey f-16 fighter.Mr Erdogan also needs to come from NATO member, who he hopes will help Turkey rebuild after the February earthquake.

For Finland, add NATO Make some things easier. In a neutral situation, Finnish leaders “have to be mini-Kissingers”, pragmatically balancing their western orientation with eastern threats, Ilkka Haavisto said. Evergreen, a think tank in Helsinki. Deepening the alliance with the West now is itself pragmatic. NATOThe guarantee of mutual defense will help Finland protect its 1,300-kilometer border with Russia.

General Sami Nurmi of the Finnish army said many Russian troops stationed in the region had been sent to Ukraine, but he expected they would be rebuilt within three to five years. The war also made it harder for Russian propagandists to influence public opinion. Once they could take advantage of the traditional neutrality of the Finns, that “changed almost overnight” after the war began, said Jessica Arrow, author of a book on Russian internet trolls.

There are some political wrinkles. Finland will hold general elections on April 2. Prime Minister Sanna Marin is popular, but her Social Democrats are trailing the centre-right National Alliance in opinion polls.apply to NATO Former Social Democratic prime minister Antti Rinne said joining Sweden “made it easier for my party to get along”. Going it alone has caused resentment, but mainly in Sweden, where some people feel abandoned.

The biggest change is a return to the days of the hostile Eastern Frontier. In Suomussalmi, relations have been friendly lately. Finns crossed into Russia to buy cheap gasoline; Russians bought vacation homes and worked summer farms picking berries. It’s all over now. Most Finns don’t hate Russians: the Raate road has monuments to Ukrainian and Russian soldiers who died there. The Russian state is another matter.

“Everyone in Suomussalmi has a plan Second Because if Russia came,” said Jenni Mikkonen, who runs a local pub and grew up in the trenches left by the war. Ville Hiltunen, one of her patrons, carried a metal detector Walking through the woods and digging up war relics is a popular pastime in the area. In a compartment behind his garage, he keeps a miniature museum of vintage gear: Soviet helmets; Finnish submachine guns. An old Engraved in Russian on the metal plate: “No food. about to die. “People here know what it’s like to live near Russia,” Mr. Hirtunen said. “It’s nothing new.” ”

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