Finns pay €200 to write anti-Russian messages on Ukrainian shells
Moscow’s last attempt to invade Finland may have ended in an embarrassing bloodbath more than 80 years ago, but memories seem to live long in the Nordic state.
A former colonel in Finnish military intelligence whose father was wounded by Soviet Union artillery fire in 1940 is one of hundreds of Finns who have paid to write messages on shells used to bombard Russian positions in Ukraine.
SignMyRocket.com, a non-profit organisation that raises funds for the Ukrainian armed forces by allowing supporters to sponsor munitions, said Finland had emerged as its biggest source of donations after the US.
After spending decades as a byword for wary neutrality and handling first the Soviet Union and then Russia with extreme care, Finland has been galvanised by President Putin’s onslaught in Ukraine.
The country has applied to join Nato, announced a €2 billion increase in defence spending, and sent the Ukrainians 11 packages of military kit worth a total of roughly €190 million, including anti-tank rockets.
The public has been squarely behind this policy shift, with 58 per cent calling for an even bigger military budget, 85 per cent saying they are worried about Russia and 83 per cent saying Finnish territory should be defended at any cost.
A number of prominent Finns have gone so far as to pay SignMyRocket at least €200 apiece to have their messages inscribed on Ukraine’s 155mm artillery shells.
Martti J Kari, the former assistant head of Finland’s military intelligence, who is now a professor at the University of Jyvaskyla, chose the words: “Merry Christmas from the Kari family!”
He wrote on Twitter:“In February 1940, my father was injured by a shell fragment while fighting off Russian aggression in the [Karelian] Isthmus. Our family had the chance to fire a 155mm artillery shell with a letter of dedication at the aggressors attacking Bakhmut [a Ukrainian town currently besieged by Russian forces] this Christmas. Now we are even.”
Sofi Oksanen, a novelist and dramatist sometimes likened to a Finnish equivalent of Margaret Atwood, also conjured up memories of Finland’s Winter War against the Soviet Union invaders with her artillery shell.
“This year the money I would have spent on fireworks went to this kind of rocket to defend Ukraine from Russian aggression,” Oksanen tweeted.
“And I have a feeling also my Finnish grandfather (veteran of Winter War and War of Continuation) sent his wishes with me, and so did my Estonian grandfather, a forest brother [anti-Soviet partisan], and my Estonian grandmother’s brothers, who died while hunted by NKVD [Soviet secret police].”
Not everyone in Finland is comfortable about the sudden outpouring of sentiment against the Russian military. Helsingin Sanomat, the country’s leading newspaper, suggested some of the messages might have crossed a line between justified moral outrage and dehumanising indignation.
Kati Parppei, a Russian history lecturer, told the newspaper that there had been a resurgence of Finland’s ancient “Russophobia” and the old “spirit of revenge”.