Foreign policy expert: “Russia has no need to mobilize the Russian-speaking population of Finland on provocation — enough other levers of influence”

In light of the upcoming July visit to Finland of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian service Yle asked a few questions about the role of Finland in relations between the EU and Russia expert at the Finnish Institute of foreign policy, the Russian programme Director Arkady Moshes.

Yle: Finland at the same time maintains a political dialogue with Russia and with the EU and Ukraine. Visible positive impact of this dialogue?

Arkady Moshes: it is Necessary to clearly outline some facts. According to a may public opinion poll in Russia, when people were asked to name the countries most friendly or allied against Russia, Finland was ranked the 38th place. Only 1% of respondents said that Finland is a friendly country. And the same 1% calls Finland among inimical to Russia countries.

Finland is not a mediator in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. This is the role of Germany and France. That is why Finland is pursuing the necessary goals that we must pursue in bilateral and in a broader international context, but excessive expectations in this matter should not be.

— Whether means it, what Russia is to Finland, not as in Finland is considered to be?

— I think the times when Finland was the exclusive partner of the USSR and Russia in its early phase, is passed. The Finnish-Russian dialogue is an integral part of an overall inclusive dialogue between the West and Russia, which does not always produce the results that people expect — and may not give in the current relationship. But exclusive, I repeat, this dialogue is not — it is an integral part of the bigger picture.

— Whether the Russian-speaking population of Finland to be somehow involved in the opposition between the EU and Russia, if the situation escalated even more?

— First of all, very sorry that we are forced to discuss this issue, which is no longer hypothetical. This in itself is evidence that the situation is very complicated and unpleasant.

Thus, in my opinion, the worst-case scenario will not come simply because with the analytical potential promotion of this topic does not promise any wins. Let’s not forget that the majority of Russian speakers live here by choice. People who consider Finland their home. Not home to the first generation arrived, but the house.

And the second generation integrates quite successfully through the education system and the army, among other things. So, to say that you can so easily mobilize the Russian population on some kind of provocative action… there’s no guarantee.

It is also unclear that it is possible to win. Finland is not Germany with its millions of Russian-speaking Diaspora, which has the potential to play a major role in the elections. The Russian-speaking population of Finland such a role to come.

And finally: until now, all experience shows that Moscow has always had sufficient leverage, resources, and channels to convey their point of view directly to the Finnish political and economic elites, and the introduction of an extra complicating factors, in my opinion, is simply not necessary.