Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

The Soviet Union, Finland and the Cold War

The Finnish Card in Soviet Foreign Policy, 1956-1959

Aappo Kähönen

Doctoral dissertation, June 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Science History, Social Science History.

From the Soviet point of view the actual substance of Soviet-Finnish relations in the second half of 1950s clearly differed from the contemporary and later public image, based on friendship and confidence rhetoric.

As the polarization between the right and the left became more underlined in Finland in the latter half of the 1950s, the criticism towards the Soviet Union became stronger, and the USSR feared that this development would have influence on Finnish foreign policy. From the Soviet point of view, the security commitments of FCMA-treaty needed additional guarantees through control of Finnish domestic politics and economic relations, especially during international crises.

In relation to Scandinavia, Finland was, from the Soviet point of view, the model country of friendship or neutrality policy. The influence of the Second Berlin Crisis or the Soviet-Finnish Night Frost Crisis in 1958-1959 to Soviet policy towards Scandinavia needs to be observed from this point of view. The Soviet Union used Finland as a tool, in agreement with Finnish highest political leadership, for weakening of the NATO membership of Norway and Denmark, and for maintaining Swedish non-alliance. The Finnish interest to EFTA membership in the summer of 1959, at the same time with the Scandinavian countries, seems to have caused a panic reaction in the USSR, as the Soviets feared that these economic arrangements would reverse the political advantages the country had received in Finland after the Night Frost Crisis.

Together with history of events, this study observes the interaction of practical interests and ideologies, both in individuals and in decision-making organizations. The necessary social and ideological reforms in the Soviet Union after 1956 had influence both on the legitimacy of the regime, and led to contradictions in the argumentation of Soviet foreign policy. This was observed both in the own camp as well as in the West.

Also, in Finland a breakthrough took place in the late 1950's: as the so-called counter reaction lost to the K-line, "a special relationship" developed with the Soviet Union. As a consequence of the Night Frost Crisis the Soviet relationship became a factor decisively defining the limits of domestic politics in Finland, a part of Finnish domestic political argumentation. Understood from this basis, finlandization is not, even from the viewpoint of international relations, a special case, but a domestic political culture formed by the relationship between a dominant state, a superpower, and a subordinate state, Finland.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 10.05.2006

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