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Odds and Ends
18 12, 9:41am
"Jaegers happened because tsars started Russification in Finland and removed the autonomy."
Nicholas II made a lot of very popular decisions, didn't he? Either way, it cemented pro-German sentiment and cultural influence among Finnish officers.
"So, you could call that an equal exchange and water under the bridge. Afterwards, the countries signed a peace treaty and a non-aggression pact."
And then Soviet government authorized secret pact with Germany. If Germans stick to it, that means being attacked by British, who will be interested at least in blocking or destroying hostile fleets in Baltic.
If Germans are going to break the pact, Finnish military is likely to be aligned with them and there is an obvious interest in gaining territory in Karelia.
Imagine being on Soviet side. Under conditions like this, what are you willing to bet on Finland going along with that non-aggression pact and not having a secret pact of it's own?
"Just like France couldn't have swapped land containing parts of the Maginot Line to some other random area. Leningrad was Russia's second most important city, but Viipuri was the same for Finland."
On one hand moving the border right to the immediate vicinity of Mannerheim line would prevent it's defense in depth, severely reducing its effectiveness. On other hand, its effectiveness even under best conditions went to zero once siege artillery was brought within range.
Certainly it can be argued that it was an attempt of strategic min-maxing, but in return for maximizing the chance of Stalin going from land swap to land grab it minimized the loss of defensive capacity of the line that even by 1938 standards wasn't particularly impressive.
"It's also not like Finland wouldn't have seen what was going on down south. The USSR was interested in annexing neighbours. While Finland and the USSR were negotiating, Poland was split in two by Germany and the USSR. "
There were also peacefully concluded negotiations with Baltic states. Intimidating them into agreement was one of the reasons why 44-th rifle division was too busy to train its recruits and ended being the main source of catastrophic losses in Winter war.
Obvious problem with this is that Soviet expectation of Baltic states being used as strike route towards Leningrad was fully justified, which in turn made decision to put military presence on that route completely rational, which in turn mean that Estonian government would be interested in seeking German protection...
In the end decision loops like these result in choosing between two options both of which are worst, but I don't see the way in which Soviet leadership wouldn't consider refusal to meaningfully negotiate about moving the border by 30km (especially in view of how small that concession would be in comparison with what was demanded from, say, Estonia) as anything other than indirect indication of hostile intent.
Anyway, this is going more towards politics between Finland and Soviet Union, I'm not sure if British government knew enough or had similar view of the facts to have the same expectations.
Still, UK wasn't completely useless to Poland (hosting and arming exiles, and at least trying to fight Germany at sea counts for something), and failure to act on land was more of France's fault to which there are several possible explanations. Safer bet is to dunk on Brits for being indirectly responsible for Italy joining the Axis.