Russian MP proposes renaming Gulf of Finland

Oleg Nilov accused Helsinki of stirring up tensions

Russia should pick a new name for the Gulf of Finland, a member of the State Duma said on Wednesday, citing tensions with the neighboring state. 

Oleg Nilov, an MP from the left-wing ‘A Just Russia – For Truth’ party, blasted the “provocations coming from formerly neutral Finland,” accusing the Nordic neighbor of promoting “hatred against Russians.” 

Nilov suggested renaming the waterway located in the easternmost part of the Baltic Sea after the Neva River or the Russian port city of Kronstadt. 

As an example of Finland’s hostile gestures, Nilov pointed to the statement made by right-wing politician Jussi Halla-aho, who was elected as the speaker of the Parliament of Finland in June. In January 2023, Halla-aho said that he had used an online service which allows donors to write messages on rockets fired by Ukrainians at Russian troops. “Killing Russian soldiers is a good thing, and Ukrainians should be helped to kill them,” the politician wrote on social media, according to Finnish broadcaster Yle. 

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Russian MP proposes renaming Gulf of Finland
Kremlin questions NATO state’s military buildup

Russia and Finland maintained relatively good relations during the Cold War. The ties have deteriorated significantly after Helsinki joined the US and its allies in imposing sanctions on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine. The Nordic state also sent weapons to Ukraine, including German-made mine-clearing Leopard tanks.

Finland has dropped its longstanding policy of non-alignment and joined NATO in April 2023. Russia has stated that it views the US-led bloc’s eastward expansion as a threat to its national security and cited NATO members’ military aid to Ukraine as one of the root causes of the current conflict.

On Wednesday, Finland said it would completely close its eastern border with Russia for two weeks, citing an influx of asylum-seekers from third countries. Interior Minister Mari Rantanen accused Moscow of weaponizing migration as part of its “hybrid operation” against the neighboring state. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as “completely baseless.”

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