Helsinki Syndrome: The Parachronistic Renaissance of Finlandization in International Politics


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Tapio Juntunen

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has produced a number of commentaries that have tried to grasp the crisis through the comforting lens of historical analogies. One of the most per- plexing of these has been the revival of Finlandization, or the idea of the “Finnish model” as a possible solution to the Ukraine crisis. In this article I interrogate these arguments, firstly, by historicising the original process of Finlandization during the Cold War. Secondly, I argue that the renaissance of Finlandization is based on parachronistic reasoning. In other words, the Finlandization analogy has been applied to modern-day Ukraine in such a way that the alien elements of the past context are, to paraphrase Quentin Skinner, “dissolved into an apparent but misleading familiarity” in the present re-appropriation of the idea and its contextual prerequisites. Indeed, the reappearance of Finlandization in the context of the Ukraine crisis reinforces the idea that the real drivers of international affairs can be reduced to the axioms derived from the transhistorical logic of international anarchy and the iron laws of great power politics. Thus, this article makes a novel contribution to the theoreti- cal discussion on the role of analogies and myths in International Relations.