COMMENTARY | The International Business Times suggests that among the many countries that Vladimir Putin would like to see attached to the Russian Empire is Finland. This shows the breathtaking scale of Putin’s ambitions.
Finland was not even part of the old Soviet Union. It was part of the Tsarist Russian Empire, but managed to gain its independence in 1918 in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution. Russia attacked Finland in 1940 during the so-called Winter War and got a bloody nose before overwhelming the Finns with superior numbers. As a result Finland joined Nazi Germany in the invasion of Russia in 1941. During the Cold War, Finland was intimidated into strict neutrality between the free world and the communist world. Indeed the term “Finlandization” was coined for a country which, while not formally joining the Soviet bloc, did not resist it either.
Is there any limit to Putin’s imperial ambitions? Poland used to be part of the Russian Empire. The Soviets tried and failed to reconquer it in the 1920s. Heavens, even Alaska used to be part of Russia before Secretary of State William Seward hornswaggled it out of the Tsar. It was called “Seward’s Folly” but since then it may be considered “Seward’s Swindle” from the perspective of the Russians, considering all the oil and minerals that came along with it. And at least 30,000 people, some of whom might be Alaskans, have actually signed a White House petition wishing Alaska to be freed of Barack Obama and become part of Mother Russia again.
All kidding aside, this proves that there is only one cure for a dictator with a lust for real estate. That is to stop him earlier rather than later. If the British and French had sent troops into the Rhineland when Hitler occupied it, the cost would have been minimal and World War II might have been avoided. But it was too inconvenient, so Hitler’s territorial demands became infinite.
Thus it will be with Putin if he is not stopped.