Finland’s uneasy relationship with its neighbour

How has Finland survived so long as an independent European country, up close to Russia, its aggressive neighbour? Over the decades it’s learnt to live with both the Soviet Union and then post-communist Russia next door and to benefit from the cross-border trade it offered. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed attitudes in Finland, seen most clearly in its decision to join Nato.

In this edition of Assignment, we report from the border towns of Lappeenranta and Imatra – which have gained economically from Russians crossing into Finland as tourists, for trade, to buy property and simply to go shopping. Now Russian tourist visas have been banned by the Finnish Government and the local mayor says the region is losing a million euros every day.

The country’s army has male conscription, defence spending is at NATO levels and Finland’s cities have underground shelters to protect its population.

Caroline Bayley looks at Finland’s relationship with Russia – past and present – and asks what’s next for these uneasy neighbours.

Producer/presenter Caroline Bayley
Editor Penny Murphy
Studio Engineer Rod Farquhar
Production co-ordinator Helena Warwick-Cross

(Photo: Almost deserted border post on Finland’s border with Russia. Credit: Caroline Bayley)
29 Mar English United Kingdom Education

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