Staunton, Dec. 20 – Moscow media are playing up a declassified NKVD report that in 1940 Britain and France who were already supporting Finland against the Soviet invasion of that country were planning to attack the USSR but were prevented from doing so when Stalin concluded a peace treaty with the Finns.
A photostat of the NKVD report which came from Soviet sources in China is available at prlib.ru/item/1322852. Examples of the coverage it is receiving in Russia today include z.ru/1443435/2022-12-20/stalo-izvestno-o-planakh-frantcii-i-anglii-napast-na-sssr-v-1940-godu, ntv.ru/novosti/2739107/ https://ria.ru/20221220/svr-1839888526.html and .stoletie.ru/lenta/svr_britanija_i_francija_v_1940_godu_sobiralis_udarit_po_sssr_752.htm.)
There can be little doubt that many hear about this long-ago event and quite possibly many responsible for its release and the coverage it is receiving have their eyes on events in Ukraine. And that raises an interesting question as to where people in both of these camps will come down.
On the one hand, it seems likely that the Kremlin is pushing this story in order to promote its argument that Western countries have always wanted to attack Russia and will use any occasion to do so. But on the other, there is another possible reaction to this story that at least some Russians may take seriously in the current context.
And that is this: Stalin prevented an attack by Britain and France precisely by making peace with Helsinki rather than by expanding his invasion of Finland. Updated to today, that could suggest to some that Putin would best protect Russia from foreign attack not by continuing to expand his aggression in Ukraine but by ending it – and thus end a threat from the West.
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