Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Finland’s Lesson for Ukraine

By RENÉ NYBERG, NYT, SEPT. 2, 2014

HELSINKI, Finland — If you want to get a rise out of a Finn, start talking about “Finlandization” and small countries’ subservience to their larger neighbors. The former American national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has used the term to suggest that accepting Russian domination is the only course Ukraine can take. I disagree.

Finlandization — or the challenge of surviving as a small nation in the shadow of a larger one — can be an inspiration for Ukraine, but it doesn’t work the way Mr. Brzezinski thinks.

Russia has had problems over the past 20 years with all of its neighbors with one notable exception — Finland. And this is a Finnish rather than a Russian achievement.

Despite escaping occupation during and after World War II, Finland’s continued survival depended on dealing with Stalin’s heirs without becoming subservient to them. Small countries living in the shadow of larger and stronger neighbors must find their own way to survive. And Finland’s experience is unique because of the crucial fact that it was never occupied by the Red Army. Finlandization isn’t a synonym for capitulation; it’s the key to managing an asymmetric power relationship.

(More here.)

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