With Russia right across the border
Finland sees Russia as a source of opportunities and threats. On the one hand, Russia is an important trade partner and Finland believes that intensive political contacts with Russia provide a boost for its international profile as a militarily non-aligned broker between the West and Russia. On the other hand, Finland is concerned by the Russian vision of the international order based on great powers’ spheres of influence, and by Russia’s increasing military capabilities. This is why Finland’s strategy towards Russia is a combination of economic and political co-operation, aimed at reducing the risk of bilateral tensions, and military deterrence. Finland is a country situated on the periphery of its civilisational base (the West) and whose border with Russia is over 1,300 km long. Thus, its armed forces are primarily focused on territorial defence. Finland maintains general conscription and a large trained reserve force, which raises the costs of possible aggression. Finland has also intensified its defence co-operation with Sweden, the USA, NATO and within the EU in response to Russia’s military interventions in Georgia and Ukraine.