Civilians pointed wooden replicas of assault rifles during a training session in an abandoned factory in Kiev, Ukraine, on 30 January 2022. (Sergei Supinsky – AFP/Lehtikuva)

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OVER HALF of Finns are at least somewhat afraid of the possibility that tensions between Russia and Ukraine could trigger a war that, in one way or another, also enmeshes Finland, reveals a survey conducted for Helsingin Sanomat by Kantar TNS.

Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday revealed that eight per cent of the respondents are very afraid and 45 per cent somewhat afraid of such escalation.

Almost a third (32%) of the respondents stated that they are not particularly afraid and 11 per cent that they are not at all afraid of the tensions escalating into a war involving Finland. Five per cent of the respondents were unable to comment on the question.

The responses differed noticeably based on age and gender, with older age groups and women more worried about the escalation than younger age groups and men, respectively.

Russia is regarded as a clearly greater threat to world peace than Nato or the United States, according to the survey by Helsingin Sanomat. Two-thirds (67%) of the respondents identified the country as the greater threat, whereas only five per cent viewed that the greater threat is posed by Nato or the US. Slightly over a fifth, meanwhile, estimated that the two camps represent an equally great threat to world peace.

Almost four-fifths (78%) of the respondents voiced their disapproval with the idea of Russia growing its sphere of influence, particularly if it encompassed Finland. Four per cent said they would approve of the development, while almost a fifth (18%) were unable to comment on the issue.

The respondents were also asked to voice their degree of confidence in the willingness of conscripts to take up arms to defend Finland. The clear majority (67%) of them said they are confident and 16 per cent they are not confident in the willingness to defend. Another 16 per cent were unable to comment on the issue.

Most respondents (56%) also viewed that the country should defend itself militarily even if the outcome was uncertain and 12 per cent if the likelihood of success was high.

Almost one-fifth (19%) of the respondents would approve of recourse to military defence only in extraordinary circumstances, while three per cent would not approve of such a response in any circumstances. Nine per cent of the respondents were unable to disclose their view on the question.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote that here, too, the opinions differed noticeably between men and women, with 72 per cent of men and 41 per cent of women viewing that a military response is warranted in all circumstances, including when the outcome is uncertain.

The survey was commissioned due to mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Russia has since late last year deployed a high number of troops near the borders of Ukraine and called for an end to the eastward expansion of Nato. The tensions have raised concerns about a possible incursion or invasion of Ukraine.

Kantar TNS contacted 1,069 people for the survey between 21 and 27 January.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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