Despite open threats from Russia, and possibly due to them, Finland has finally decided to join NATO, starting on May 15, 2022, the formal procedure for joining this military alliance. Moreover, some Finnish soldiers have openly ridiculed the Russians by inviting them to “… join 200,000 Russians who are already in Finland buried a few meters underground after your last attempt in 1939”.
At the same time, we cannot say that Finland already has such a large army. In peacetime, the Finnish Armed Forces has a total of 21,500 active personnel, which in the event of war increases to 280,000 due to reservists (in Finland they have the conscription system). But Finland’s military doctrine of total defense has not changed since the time of Marshal Mannerheim, who was able to stop the Soviet invasion three times in a row. In the event of an invasion, the whole of Finland will fight.
And in order to have a secure home front, Finland built an extensive structure of public, industrial and military storage facilities back in the 1960s, some of which are built in solid rock and can withstand even a nuclear explosion. For example, in Helsinki alone there are 5,500 bomb shelters, some of which are real giants. There are more than 50,000 bomb shelters across the country.
Returning to Helsinki. Shelters in the Finnish capital can provide shelter to more than 900,000 civilians, despite Helsinki’s population of only 658,000. The underground city has a swimming pool, hockey field, karting track, playgrounds, cafes, churches and more. In peacetime, there are various institutions and various ceremonial events. During the war, this city under the city will become a refuge for citizens.
Finland has 1,287 kilometers of common border with Russia and long-standing claims and insults from great power chauvinists who have yet to forgive the Finns for the humiliating “victory” of 1939 and 1944. Finns also remember those wars well.
Finland had already suffered from the bombing of Soviet aircraft in 1939-1944, so it drew conclusions and built an extensive network of bomb shelters. Just in case. A very sensible approach, which Ukraine should take into account after the victory.