Nestled in the shadow of Russia, Finland is a sparsely populated country of only 5.5 million souls. As Finland celebrates its 100th year of independence from Russia, it is focused on maintaining all the success it has had over the last century.
Despite its small population, only 6.7% that of Germany’s, Finland can field a large self defense. The Nordic country has approached its self-defense in much the same way as tiny, Switzerland-with a massive force of part time soldiers, ready to be called up at a moment’s notice. Finland can field more troops than Germany, despite its smaller size.
This type of smaller footprint, relying on a larger group of part-time soldiers is a cheaper way to ensure self-defense, without the temptations of a large standing military, which politicians are quick to use for nation-building projects far from home.
Richard Milne reports in the Financial Times that despite old animosities, Finland approaches Russia with two minds. He writes:
Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, put it best when he says that Finland uses two sides of the brain when dealing with Russia, both distinct and uncontaminated by the other. “One views Russia as a security threat to be taken seriously; the other as a neighbour for trade and economic opportunity,” he says.
Both approaches are manifest in Finland. Unlike neighbouring Sweden, Finland never bought into the myth of a post-cold war peace dividend and kept military preparedness and force numbers high.
Finland stands out for the huge number of reserve troops it can call on. Many top business and political leaders are reservists and receive top-up training every few years. Sauli Niinisto, Finland’s president, has even boasted that the country can call up a few thousand more soldiers than Germany, which has a population 15 times the size.
The European leader whom President Vladimir Putin of Russia has had most contact with is Mr Niinisto. The two meet at least once a year, with the Russian leader last visiting Finland in July in a controversy-free trip against the backdrop of the year-long Finland 100 celebrations.
Read more here.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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