An endgame for Ukraine is desperately needed as public support for Ukraine wanes over time and policy elites in Washington shift their focus toward the Gaza conflict. U.S. and European officials reportedly discussed the possibility of peace talks with the Ukrainian side. Here the question arises: what would a peace treaty between Kiev and Moscow look like? Among the many historical examples, one stands out as a potential model for how the Russo-Ukrainian war might end.
The “Winter War,” or the Soviet-Finnish War that took place from November 1939 to March 1940 (and was renewed by the Finns as allies of Germany from June 1941 to September 1944), is currently underway. There have been some comparisons with the conflict between Ukraine. And Russia. After Finland refused an ultimatum to cede a significant portion of its territory and the Soviet Union’s signing of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Joseph Stalin’s Red Army established a puppet communist Finnish government and replaced the Soviet Union with a second invaded Finland to eliminate potential hostile forces near the cities of and Leningrad’s only Baltic port.
Similar to the early stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Soviet officials predicted that Helsinki would fall to Soviet forces within just three days. However, even though the Soviets outnumbered the Finns by three to one, Helsinki managed to hold off the Red Army for more than three months, inflicting extremely heavy losses on the invading forces.
Although Finland was ultimately defeated and had to concede about 11 percent of its territory, the Finns achieved a spiritual victory. It is widely believed that Stalin saw the spirit and courage of Finland’s resistance and became convinced that incorporating Finland into the Soviet Union or making it a communist client state like Poland would be more trouble than it was worth. It is being This also contributed to the eventual agreement in which Stalin signed a peace treaty with Finland in 1944 in exchange for a small amount of additional territory and a promise of neutrality on the part of Helsinki. Finland thus became the only region of the former Russian Empire that was not reincorporated into the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin.
Afterwards, Finland implemented Paasikivi-Kekkonenism, which aimed to maintain Finland’s survival as an independent country by maintaining a neutral foreign policy position, while Finnish nationalism became a central part of Finnish society. It became an ideological and political driving force. The Soviet Union adhered to the terms of its treaty with Finland, and during the Cold War Finland developed into a significantly prosperous and successful Western democracy. On this basis, after the end of the Cold War, Finland could join the EU in 1995 and NATO in 2023.
During the Cold War, “Finlandization” was considered a derogatory term among Western geopoliticians, implying accommodation if not appeasement, but it turned out to be a diplomatic victory. Finland has long had the highest GDP per capita in the world, a score of 100% on the Freedom House Democracy Index (compared to 83 for the United States), and Finns have long been ranked as the happiest people in the world. . The Austrian State Treaty of 1955 guaranteed Austria’s neutrality, which ensured that Soviet and her NATO forces would withdraw from the country and that Austria would develop as a successful and prosperous Western democracy.
Kiev has learned from the example of Finland that it is still worth surrendering some territory, although it is very painful, if a large part of the territory can thereby ensure the country’s independence and the capacity for economic and political development. You might learn that. Just as Stalin was persuaded by Finnish resistance, the strength of Ukrainian nationalism and the united and fierce resistance of the Ukrainian people to Russian aggression made his goal of making all of Ukraine a Russian client state impossible. I hope I have convinced Putin that this is the case.
This is already a huge victory for Ukraine, not only in terms of Russia’s original goals, but also in terms of the past 300 years of Russian control over Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government currently remains committed to its extremist goal of reclaiming all internationally recognized territory, including Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. However, military realities suggest that it is highly unlikely that this goal will be achieved; an agreement is likely. Freezing existing fronts may be Kiev’s best bet, at least for now.
On the other hand, if the war continued, Russia’s vast advantages in human resources, industry, and arms production could result in far greater losses for Ukraine—Finland in March or September 1940. If the battle had continued after that, it would probably have been a complete disaster. 1944.
The U.S. government can play a role by encouraging unrealistic war goals and thereby avoiding the possibility of exposing Ukraine to future disaster.
Ukraine has already won in important respects. President Vladimir Putin has no hope of conquering all of Ukraine as a vassal state in the near future. Kiev is moving closer to the West and may be integrated into the European Union (EU) in the future. Moreover, Russia’s actions actually strengthened Ukrainian nationalism.
As in Finland, this national unity is the best hope for Ukraine’s independence.