After annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin could also be eyeing opportunities to conquer the Baltic States and Finland, former Putin aide Andrej Illarionov told The Independent.
Finland had previously been an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian empire for 108 years until the country became independent in 1917, after World War I.
“[Putin] could well say that the Bolsheviks in 1917 committed treason against Russian national interests by granting Finland’s independence,” Illarionov, ho was Putin’s chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005,
told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
Illarionov warned that Putin is seeking to reincorporate territories that he sees as belonging to the former grandeur of the Russian empire.
“Putin’s view is that he protects what belongs to him and his predecessors,” Illarionov added.
Finland, unlike the Baltic States to its south, is not a NATO member and can not count on any defensive alliances to secure it against Russian aggression.
The Finnish army is on high alert after the Russian air force began drills 155 miles away from the countries’ shared border, Finnbay reports. The drill is related to Russia’s 3-day-long nuclear war exercise and reportedly features ammunition testing.
The Finnish army has responded by starting a 24/7 live monitoring operation of the exercises.
Finding a precedent to invade Finland would be substantially more difficult for Putin than justifying his annexation of Crimea. Whereas upwards of 60% of Crimea’s population is Russian, Russians make up less than 1% of Finland’s population, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
Finland, unlike Crimea, also does not host any Russian military installations, such as Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
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