War with Finland

Viacheslav Molotov, Radio Address. November 29, 1939


A press release of the Tass Agency.

MEN AND WOMEN, citizens of the Soviet Union, the hostile policy pursued by the present Finnish Government towards our country obliges us to take immediate steps to ensure the external security of the State. As you know, during these last two months, the Soviet Government has patiently carried on negotiations with the Finnish Government on proposals which, in the present alarming international situation, it regarded as an indispensable minimum to ensure the safety of the country, and particularly that of Leningrad. During those

Negotiations, the Finnish Government has adopted an uncompromising and hostile attitude towards our country. Instead of amicably seeking a basis of agreement, those who at present govern Finland, out of deference to the foreign imperialists who stir up hatred against the Soviet Union, have followed a different path. Despite all our concessions, the negotiations have led to no result. Now we see the consequences. During the last few days, on the frontier between the USSR and Finland, the Finnish military clique has begun to indulge in revolting provocations, not stopping short of artillery fire upon our troops near Leningrad, which has caused serious casualties among the Red troops.

The attempts made by our Government to prevent the renewal of these provocations by means of practical proposals addressed to the Finnish Government have not merely met with no support but have again been countered by the hostile policy of the governing policies in Finland. As you have learnt from the Soviet Government’s note of yesterday, they have replied to our proposals by a hostile refusal, by an insolent denial of the facts, by an attitude of mockery towards the casualties we have suffered, and by an unconcealed desire to continue to hold Leningrad under the direct threat of their troops. All this has definitely shown that the present Finnish Government, embarrassed by its anti-Soviet connections with the imperialists, is unwilling to maintain normal relations with the USSR It continues to adopt a hostile position towards our country and will take no heed of the stipulations of the Treaty of Non-aggression concluded between the two countries, being anxious to keep our glorious Leningrad under a military menace. From such a Government and from its insensate military clique nothing is now to be expected but fresh insolent provocations.

For this reason, the Soviet Government was compelled yesterday to declare that it now considered itself released from the engagements which it had undertaken under the Treaty of Non-aggression concluded between the USSR and Finland and which had been irresponsibly violated by the Finnish Government. In view of the fresh attacks made by Finnish troops against Soviet troops on the Soviet-Finnish frontier, the Government now finds itself compelled to take new decisions. The Government can no longer tolerate the situation created, for which the Finnish Government is entirely responsible. The Soviet Government has come to the conclusion that it could no longer maintain normal relations with the Finnish Government, and for this reason has found it necessary to recall immediately its political and economic representatives from Finland. Simultaneously, the Government gave the order to the Supreme Command of the Red Army and Navy to be prepared for all eventualities and to take immediate steps to cope with any new attacks on the part of the Finnish military clique.

The foreign Press hostile to us declares that our action is aimed at seizing and annexing to the USSR Finnish territory. This is a malicious slander. The Soviet Government never did, and does not now, cherish any such intentions. Nay, more, had Finland herself pursued a friendly policy towards the USSR, the Soviet Government, which has always desired to maintain friendly relations with Finland, would willingly have taken the initiative in making territorial concessions. On that condition, the Soviet Government would have been prepared to discuss favorably even such questions as that of the reunion of the Karelians inhabiting the chief districts of present-day Soviet Karelia with their Finnish kinsmen in a single independent Finnish State. For that, however, it is essential that the Finnish Government should adopt towards the USSR, not a hostile, but a friendly attitude which would correspond to the vital interests of both States. There are some who say that the steps we have taken are directed against the independence of Finland or constitute interference in her internal and external affairs. That is also a malicious slander. We look on Finland, whatever regime prevails there, as an independent sovereign State in the whole of its foreign and domestic policy. It is our steadfast wish that the Finnish people should settle their own internal and external questions as they think fit. The peoples of the

USSR did everything that could be done at the time to create an independent Finland. Our peoples are equally ready in the future to help the Finnish people achieve their free and independent development.

Nor does the USSR intend to infringe in any way the interests of other states in Finland. Questions concerning the relations between Finland and other States are the affair of Finland alone, and the USSR does not consider itself entitled to interfere in the matter. We are solely concerned to ensure the safety of the USSR, and in particular of Leningrad, with its population of three-and-a-half million inhabitants. In the present atmosphere of white heat generated by the war, we cannot allow the solution of this vital and urgent problem to depend on the ill-will of the present rulers of Finland. This problem will have to be solved by the efforts of the USSR itself in friendly collaboration with the Finnish people. We are sure that a favorable solution of this problem of the safety of Leningrad will be the foundation for a solid friendship between the USSR and Finland.

Source: League of Nations, Official Journal. Part II (November 30, 1939), p. 541.


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