Russian-Finnish relations weakened by Ukraine crisis

Russian-speakers living in Finland believe the Ukraine conflict has had a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, but most don’t feel that Finnish attitudes towards them have changed for the worse.


According to a recent poll commissioned by national broadcaster Yle, 66 percent of the respondents say that they feel the Ukraine conflict had negatively impacted on Russia-Finland relations, while only 21 percent said Finnish attitudes towards Russian-speakers in Finland had changed for the worse following the crisis.

Over 500 Russian-speakers living in Finland were interviewed about how they feel the relationship between the two countries and Finns’ attitudes towards Russians have changed since the onset of the Ukraine crisis in 2014 and the subsequent heightened tensions between the West and Russia.

Of the respondents, 66 percent said they felt that Russia and Finland’s relations had weakened owing to the Ukraine crisis. Only 19 percent said the crisis had not affected relations between the 2 countries.

Another survey question asked respondents whether Finns’ attitudes towards Russian speakers living in Finland had changed. Whereas 46 percent of respondents said Finnish attitudes had remained positive, 21 percent felt they had become more negative in the current political climate.

Poll: Russia no security threat for Finland

Another poll made by Yle shows that more than 60 percent of Finns believe that it is unlikely that Russia would threaten security in Finland. One-third of the respondents feel that Russia could pose a risk in the short term.

“On the basis of their knowledge of their own history Finns can take a realistic view of an extreme situation and won’t come to wild conclusions. I would say that this opinion poll pretty much reflects the actual situation,” said Markku Kangaspuro, research director of the Aleksanteri Institute, which specialises in research relating to Russia and Eastern Europe.