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Tags: ukraine | finland | russia | south vietnam

Will Ukraine's Future Be Like Finland or South Vietnam?

a map of ukraine with the country flag on it and the words i stand with ukraine
(Dreamstime)

Robert Zapesochny By Tuesday, 14 June 2022 09:00 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

One of the many lessons that I learned from the Iraq War is that the country should only go to war as a united country. Countries can punch above their weight when they are united.

This is true of Ukraine today and Finland against the Soviets. In the Winter War (1939-1940), Finland technically lost the war, but it saved itself from the fate of the three Baltic States.

Finland only had 3.7 million people in 1939. The Soviet Union had a population of 168 million people that year.

In 1939, the Soviet Union forced Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to host military bases in all three countries. Finland rejected this idea because it would give the Soviets a foothold in their own territory.

In 1940, the Soviets occupied the three Baltic States and incorporated them into the Soviet Union.

The Winter War resulted in 65,000 Finnish casualties and over 300,000 Soviet casualties. After three months, Finland was forced to sign the Moscow Peace Treaty, and give up 11 percent of their territory.

The Finnish people fought hard enough to convince the Soviets that the cost of occupying the entire country far outweighed the benefits. We need to do the same when it comes to Russia’s behavior in Ukraine.

The Finnish people followed the advice of Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

They understood that only when the entire country fights together can the people punch above their weight. In the end, the Finns also knew when to negotiate.

Diplomacy must be realistic for a country to survive. The Finns were willing to sacrifice land in exchange for their survival as an independent country.

President Richard Nixon believed that South Vietnam could have survived if Congress didn’t pull the plug.

According to Article 9 of the Paris Peace Accords, the South Vietnamese had the right to determine their future in free and fair elections. It also said that no foreign country, including North Vietnam, had the right to “impose” their will on the South Vietnamese.

North Vietnam agreed to this treaty because they needed some time to recover.

In his book No More Vietnams President Nixon wrote:

“In January 1973, the military balance of power was decisively in South Vietnam’s favor. Its army fielded over 450,000 troops, split about half and half between combat and support units. Its air force enlisted 54,000, and its navy 42,000. In addition, there were 325,000 troops in its Regional Forces and another 200,000 in its Popular Forces. North Vietnam’s strength stood between 500,000 and 600,000 troops. About 290,000 were in North Vietnam, 70,000 in Laos, and 25,000 in Cambodia. Only about 148,000 combat troops were in South Vietnam — which gave our ally at least a four-to-one advantage on the battlefield.”

Congress renounced the use of air power after the peace accords were signed. This gave North Vietnam the incentive to attack when ready.

After the American withdrawal, Congress slashed aid to South Vietnam from $2.27 billion in FY 1973 to $700 million in FY 1975.

The Russians saw weakness and exploited the situation. As our aid to South Vietnam declined, the Soviet Union increased their aid and ensured victory for the communists.

Unlike our withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, our allies in South Vietnam were able to hang on for two years after our 1973 withdrawal.

The West should not abandon Ukraine. That said, it is not realistic to believe that Ukraine is going to win back all the territories it has lost since 2014.

If there is any chance that President Putin will honor a peace agreement, like the Soviets did with Finland, the United States, and the EU, need to convince Putin that they can turn the sanctions on and off at will.

The best possible agreement for Ukraine will require the West to take down the sanctions over the course of a year after an agreement is signed. If the Russians violate the agreement, the sanctions must be snapped back.

In any agreement, Russia will likely keep the current territory it occupies and no NATO membership for Ukraine. In return, Ukraine gets to keep most of the country plus sufficient military and economic assistance from the West to rebuild the country.

On a final note, Putin has arrested over 15,000 Russians for protesting this war. The Russian people should have the freedom of speech to criticize their government without fear of reprisal.

I hope a peace agreement will include the condition that these Russian prisoners will be released when the war ends.

This is the best we can do for Ukraine.

Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.

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RobertZapesochny
One of the many lessons that I learned from the Iraq War is that the country should only go to war as a united country. Countries can punch above their weight when they are united.This is true of Ukraine today and Finland against the Soviets. In the Winter War (1939-1940),...
ukraine, finland, russia, south vietnam
822
2022-00-14
Tuesday, 14 June 2022 09:00 AM
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