As of late, Vladimir Putin seems to get most of what he wants. So, when a former top Putin adviser says that Russia’s President wants to take Finland, the world takes notice.
While speaking to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Andrej Illarionov made it clear that Putin sees any territories that were formerly Russian or Soviet as territories that Russia ought to expand into. Illarionov served as the president’s economic adviser between 2000-2005.
Finland was a part of the former Russian Empire up until 1917 when it was granted total autonomy. However, according to Illarionov, it is Putin’s belief that Finland is rightfully Russian, and the granting of its independence was an act of treason. As such, Illarionov claims that Putin will move into Finland to retake it, and he is poised to do so soon.
Furthermore, Illarionov argues that Putin’s world view has him set to retake areas of the Baltic States, Georgia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Illarionov highlighted these states alongside Finland as territories that Russia’s president will claim in the near future.
None of the listed territories are NATO states, and some analysts suggest that this makes them ripe for Russia’s picking. As countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are only likely to become militarily involved if Russia is to attack a NATO nation, it appears unlikely as of now that any significant deterrents are blocking Putin from invading as he pleases.
And Vladimir Putin seems to be encouraged by Western sanctions. According to Illarionov, the West is acting with naivety in economic sanctions. Apparently, the sanctions have only confirmed Putin’s world views and bolstered the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. Now, if he truly wants Finland and other former Russian or Soviet territories, he can make a better case for his actions.
Asked if Putin plans on making good on his reported claim to the Scandinavian nation, Illarionov replied by saying that, although not today or tomorrow, Putin will eventually dive headlong into European Union nations for his own gain.
This most recent freezing of relations came about as a result of Russia’s destabilization, invasion, and annexation of Crimea. Putin claimed that what was a former Soviet territory truly belonged to Russia and, as a result of political upheaval in the area likely caused by the Kremlin itself, he made a case that the Russian nationals in the region needed to be defended from Ukrainian Fascism.
As a result, the West imposed sanctions on several prominent Russians. Furthermore, several diplomatic efforts have been used against Russia, including a freezing of military relations and kicking the Eurasian nation out of the G8.
However, it appears unlikely as of now that these sanctions are having any sort of profound or positive effect in terms of helping deescalate the situation. According to Illarionov, more needs to be done to respond to Putin’s aggression.
In his opinion, military options need to be on the table to defend the countries that Putin has in his sights. Whether or not they are NATO countries it is imperative, as Illarionov states, to collectively defend against Putin.
What Vladimir Putin wants, Vladimir Putin seems to get lately, and whether or not his aim is Finland, people ought to take notice. With the West sitting back and watching, perhaps it is time to change the trend.
By Brett Byers-Lane