27 OCTOBER 1939, Page 2

The Pressure on Finland

The Finnish delegation which left Helsinki for Moscow on Sunday evening left Moscow for Helsinki on Tuesday evening for fresh instructions, which suggests clearly enough that the compromise proposals put forward by Finland were not acceptable to M. Stalin, and that he either stood by his original demands or put forward new ones. On that infor- mation is lacking, for the secrecy maintained by both sides regarding the negotiations is remarkable. The outlook, de- spite the present hitch, is reasonably promising. Finland, in spite of the striking resolution of her people and the vigour and extent of her defence preparations, appears ready to make concessions which do not infringe her national in- dependence, and the fact that the construction of a Russian naval base (" defensive " in character) on one of the islands in the Gulf of Finland would put Helsinki, and indeed all Finland, at Russia's mercy is less serious than it sounds, for Finland is obviously at Russia's mercy in any case. On the other side the Russo-Turkish negotiations shcw that M. Stalin is not eager to make the failure of an agreement which he desires a casus belli, and an armed attack on Fin- land, which is being treated much less cavalierly than the Baltic States, is unlikely. An agreement which Finland could honourably accept would stabilise the situation in the Eastern Baltic—much to Russia's advantage and Germany's dis- comfiture.