20 OCTOBER 1939, Page 2

Finland and Moscow

The prospect of a reasonable agreement be:ag reached between Russia and Finland would be easier to assess if it were known what Russia's demands on Finland are. But on that point both Moscow and Helsinki remain resolutely mute, Helsinki very wisely, since a compromise solution will much more easily be reached if it has not to be measured publicly against the original demands. Russia no doubt hopes to guard permanently and completely against any danger of attack on Leningrad, and for that purpose desires undisputed control of the Gulf of Finland. That might not be impossible to arrange, and the unequivocal declaration made by M. Kalinin, the President of the U.S.S.R., that Russia would continue to respect the inde- pendence and sovereignty of Finland, which she has recognised for twenty years, is reassuring. But M. Stalin is pretty clearly trying to force the Finns into a military alliance, which would have the effect of detaching her very largely from Scandinavia, with which, as well as with the other Oslo Powers, her relations have been becoming in- creasingly close. Finland's definitive reply is not to be drafted till after the conference now in progress at Stock- holm between the three Scandinavian States and Finland. If, as is conceivable, Russia and Germany have agreed to share domination over the four States, Denmark falling to Germany's share, the situation will be much more serious than has so far appeared. But Germany desires nothing less than to see Russia in command of Sweden's iron ore.