Having embraced Viola: could Finland's accession to NATO lead to the rupture of the post-war peace treaty? | Latest news The Moscow Post
30 November 2023

Having embraced Viola: could Finland's accession to NATO lead to the rupture of the post-war peace treaty?

The leadership of Finland "cuts the bitch" on which the country has been held for the past 75 years.

As the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports, in general, nothing particularly bad, unusual or unexpected has yet happened. The NATO bloc added another 1,271 km to its border with Russia, believing that this should scare Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin, as it looked in the Kremlin's messages, "let go on the brakes" this news, there are enough other worries. And Finland, like an ostrich, decided to hide behind the NATO barrier, but from what?

The intermediary approached the barrier

Russia is now ordered to enter this barrier. Finland was an intermediary in trade between the West and the USSR. In 1947, the parties concluded the first five-year trade agreement, which was renegotiated and was the basis of cooperation until 1992.

Finnish companies took part in the construction of factories and factories in Karelia and the Leningrad Region. According to the Finnish diplomatic service, about 900 Finnish enterprises are still operating in Russia, most of which are located in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. Some have moved their production to Russia altogether.

YIT, which opened a representative office in Moscow in 1982, became a large developer and the second Finnish company in terms of business volume, second only to the energy company Fortum. This energy concern came during the reform of RAO UES of Russia, but has already decided to leave, selling everything, including Unipro. The value of assets is estimated at 80-82 billion rubles, Gazprom and Inter RAO claim them. Unipro and Fortum consumed more than 17 billion cubic meters of gas per year in 2020-21.

Relations with Russia helped Finland become one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. This made it possible for Moscow to believe that not the entire West is anti-Soviet. In the West, all this was called "Finlandization," which sounded almost like "sterilization." In Moscow, streets appeared with the names of Finnish figures - Kuusinen, Kekkonen. There has always been a Lakhta district in St. Petersburg. There is something to remember!

Waves of new sanctions lead to further degradation of relations, cut alive. The manufacturer of diesel ship installations Wartsila refused to supply them for an emergency rescue vessel, which is being built at the Zaliv Kerch plant. The company will write off about 200 million euros of Russian assets. The state-owned company Gasum refuses to pay for gas in rubles, plans to switch to the Balticconnector gas pipeline. RAO Nordic Oy (a subsidiary of Inter RAO) has suspended supplies covering the shortage of Finnish generating capacity.

Exports of goods from Finland to Russia in March fell in annual terms by 42%, imports increased by 63% due to nickel raw materials. Russia's exports are raw materials in composition. The largest position last year was oil and oil products. Next came nickel and products from it, then products of the chemical industry, gas and wood.

The peace treaty "in a ballot box"?

The last "star flash" on the horizon of foreign policy of neutral Helsinki happened in 2018 when there Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump met. By then Finland closely cooperated with NATO, was attracted to manoeuvers of alliance though didn't look for guarantees of "Article 5", than favourably differed from Ukraine.

Forces of defense of Finland are highly compatible to NATO. The Air Force - the most combat-ready type of armed forces - includes 60 multi-purpose F-18 fighters (modification of F/A-18 Hornet) which can be replaced with F-35A. Naval Forces 3.7 thousand people – from them total 2.4 thousand officers and contract employees. On arms fighting and rocket boats, mine trawlers, the landing ships. Ground forces are equipped with the German Leopard tanks and the IFV of the Soviet production. Total number of forces of defense is about 34 thousand people and can be increased at the expense of reservists much. The border service is equipped with the patrol ships, patrol boats, boats on the airbag, planes and helicopters.

The scope for "military development" of the territory of Finland is. For the USA military airfields of Finland and Sweden will be acquisition. They say that expansion of alliance at the expense of Finland and Sweden does the Baltic Sea by "the internal lake" of NATO. An opportunity to isolate the ports of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad raises. Forces of the block approach the Russian Arctic and the Northern Sea Route.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the entry of Finland into NATO will be violation of the Parisian peace treaty of 1947. On him the parties can't conclude the alliances or participate in the unions against one of the parties. The treaty on bases of the relations of 1992 is adopted by the obligation not to threaten and not to use force against each other.

What will be consequence of a termination of the peace treaty to predict difficult.

The State Duma is ready to break off the lease of Saimaa Canal which works till 2062. The channel serves as an important transport artery.

Could more, but weren't in time

Concern of Moscow, undoubtedly, increases. That NATO will be undertaken on "the Finnish site" will show time. But you shouldn't have underestimated value of Russia for Finland. Russia is the fifth trade partner on export, ranks second in import. There were also prospects and in the sphere of tourism, but annual tourist flow decreased from 9 to 2 million people. The tourism share in GDP of Finland makes 2.5%.

Finland was many years one of large foreign investors in the Russian Federation. The volume of the Finnish investments is estimated at 12-15 billion euros. Russia could bring closer to these indicators and the, but the contract for the project of Rosatom for construction of the NPP "Hankhikivi-1" signed in 2013 was terminated. Rosatom undertook two thirds of financing of the project worth 7.5 billion euros, attracting 2.4 billion euros from NWF. Rosatom gave for ten years of a guarantee on providing the NPP with fuel for 450 million euros.

Economically Finland is comparable with Japan. Trade volumes in 2021 grew by a third and could probably grow further, but in 2013-2020 decreased from 20 billion dollars to 10 billion dollars (Crimea, sanctions and a pandemic). In 2021 only export of the Russian Federation to Finland made 9.6 billion dollars, having exceeded import for 6 billion dollars. The positive balance of Russia increased by 47%.

Valve cores of Norilsk Nickel?

The main intrigue of the bilateral relations is that Finns suppress existence in their territory of the plant of Norilsk Nickel – Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta Oy (NNHO). This world's largest enterprise producing palladium and high-grade nickel and also in large numbers platinum and copper. NNHO is a largest foreign asset of Norilsk Nickel and is the world leader in the field of hydrometallurgical production of nickel of high purity. The enterprise in 2021 received a grant of €15 million from public foundation of Business Finland.

"The allocated financing will contribute to the development of the steady accumulator industry in Finland and, as a result, to growth of the enterprises and also creation of new jobs in this industry", - it is said in the statement of Norilsk Nickel. According to the Finnish side, the company experienced difficulties with raw materials. After transition of production to Norilsk Nickel the deficiency was eliminated.

As a result Norilsk Nickel increased the nikelerafinirovochny capacities by 60 thousand tons of nickel a year, the potential of production of the refined nickel from own raw materials grew by 35-40 thousand tons. It was reported that Norilsk Nickel planned to increase production capacities of Nornickel Harjavalta in two stages from the current 65 thousand tons to more than 100 thousand tons of nickel-containing metal and chemical products a year. Within the first stage, production will grow to 75 thousand tons per year in 2023, within the second - to more than 100 thousand tons by the beginning of 2026.

NNHO joined the Norilsk Nickel Group in 2007. The $408 million agreement was signed with the American OM Group (a leading cobalt producer). The Company also acquired Australian enterprises supplying nickel raw materials. Now, NNHO processes Russian raw materials and provided raw materials on a tolling basis. NNHO has become a premium platform for the organization of vertically integrated production of chemical components of battery cathode materials for the European market. NNHO, capable of producing up to 60 thousand tons of nickel per year, is also recognized as a qualified supplier of cobalt according to the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Overtaken by Viola

In general, Finns are inventive. At one time, they "forced" Russian Railways and the Trans-Siberian container bridge to work for their interests, using modern logistics and organizing on their territory special customs zones that supplied St. Petersburg, Moscow and the surrounding area with household and office equipment of Japanese and South Korean production. Columns of container ships with Russian numbers were built to the Finnish container ports of the Khamina-Kotka zone, which were then delivered to Russian customers.

Another example is processed viola cheese, which resembled the famous and affordable Druzhba cheese in the USSR. The two products were distinguished by the packaging. The Finnish version of using a plastic jar with a lid allowed the venerable product to be stored for some time, as well as improve its quality due to consistency. It was Viola cheese that could be spread on bread like butter. The foil did not allow this and the Druzhba cheese became part of a buffet "for three."

The largest manifestation of Finnish ingenuity is the import of Russian wood for the production of building materials, paper and cardboard, as well as furniture.

Finnish producers bought, dried raw materials using inexpensive Russian natural gas for this, processed and sold in exchange for new supplies of unprocessed wood. Thus, the neighbors of Russia acquired a reputation as zealous users of forest resources, mainly Russian.

Stora Enso's investments in the Russian timber industry exceeded 300 million euros in a dozen industries, and not only in the North-West region. UPM takes one of the leading positions in the field of paper production, develops a plant in the Novgorod region, investing about 250 million euros in the project.

The positions of Finnish companies are noticeable in the segment of building materials. Factories on Russian territory have companies Paroc, Teknos, Tikkurila, Kiilto. Huhtamaki (containers, packaging materials) and Specta (industrial packaging) are developing.

Change of ownership began

Some Finnish enterprises also produce products for export. Nokian Tyers, with a plant in Vsevolozhsk, has invested about a billion euros in its projects and sells tires to 35 countries. About 85% of its production volumes are concentrated in Russia.

Prisma increased its capacity in retail, Itella in logistics. The key players in the food industry are Fazer and Valio (enterprises in the Leningrad and Moscow regions), Paulig (a plant in the Tver region). But investors began to scatter. Food manufacturer Raisio has closed a deal with Kopaker Agro. Paulig announced the sale of the division of Paulig Rus LLC.

The business of the Finnish Valio (and the Viola brand), including a plant in the Moscow region, where there are lines for the production and packaging of processed cheese, as well as for the cutting and packaging of hard cheeses, was acquired by the Velkom group of companies. The Kolomensky holding acquired the Russian business of the Finnish company Fazer. In 2021, the Cherkizovo group acquired Pit-Product LLC (Leningrad Region) from Atria, which supplies meat products for Sibylla Rus, its sales in 2021 amounted to 3 billion rubles.

Answering the question "How can they put pressure on Finland?," One could answer "Ask in Brussels and politicians in Helsinki!" The headquarters of the EuroNATO Union and the government of Finland are located there.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, answering a question from The Moscow Post about the prospects for relations, noted that Finland already understands its economic losses due to European sanctions and retaliatory measures.

And she added: "We consider extremely politicized the decision of the customer of the construction of the nuclear power plant - the Finnish company to stop cooperation with the structures of Rosatom. Obviously, the fate of the commercial project was determined under pressure from the Finnish authorities, who were pressured by customers from abroad. "

Photo: The Moscow Post

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