For more than a year, the Russian Federation has been flying combat and surveillance aircraft – with transponders off – over the Baltic Sea approaching and occasionally entering Finnish and Swedish airspace. Such dangerous and provocative actions have come with no prior warning. In response, these two Nordic countries signed an agreement with NATO to increase cooperation and interoperability – meant to send a warning to the Russians. Finland has an 833 mile border with Russia, the Finns have fought innumerable wars with its much larger neighbor but have also managed to convince the Russians that a Russian military invasion of Finland is simply too costly. The post-World War II policy of Finlandization ended quietly with the demise of the Soviet Union as Finland joined the Council of Europe, the European Union and NATO’s Partners for Peace thereafter.
Finland has excellent Russian experts who follow Russian politics and intentions carefully. Dr. Iivonen is one of the most experienced. How does he view the changing landscape across Finland’s Eastern border? What is his assessment of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin and its short and long term foreign policy goals and objectives in the Baltic region and beyond?