Rysto Riti Address – via NBC Shortwave – December 1, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Soviet invasion of Finland was underway. Helsinki was the object of Soviet air raids and newly installed Prime Minister Risto Ryti was scheduled to address the world on the situation, December 1, 1939. But as the situation was fast moving, Riti was forced to cancel his talk at the last minute, instead giving the responsibility to a cabinet member to convey the situation as it stood.
After Soviet involvement in the Finnish Civil War in 1918, no formal peace treaty was signed. In 1918 and 1919, Finnish volunteers conducted two unsuccessful military incursions across the Soviet border, the Viena and Aunus expeditions, to annex areas in Karelia that according to the Greater Finland ideology would combine all Finnic peoples into a single state. In 1920, Finnish communists, based in Soviet Russia, attempted to assassinate the former Finnish White Guard Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. On 14 October 1920, Finland and Soviet Russia signed the Treaty of Tartu, confirming the old border between the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland and Imperial Russia proper as the new Finnish–Soviet border. Finland also received Petsamo, with its ice-free harbour on the Arctic Ocean. Despite the signing of the treaty, relations between the two countries remained strained. The Finnish government allowed volunteers to cross the border to support the East Karelian uprising in Russia in 1921, and Finnish communists in the Soviet Union continued to prepare for revenge and staged a cross-border raid into Finland, the Pork Mutiny, in 1922. In 1932, the Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact was signed between both countries, and it was reaffirmed for ten years in 1934. Foreign trade in Finland was booming, but less than 1% of it was with the Soviet Union. In 1934, the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations.
On 26 November 1939, an incident was reported near the Soviet village of Mainila, near the border with Finland. A Soviet border guard post had been shelled by an unknown party resulting, according to Soviet reports, in the deaths of four and injuries of nine border guards. Research conducted by several Finnish and Russian historians later concluded that the shelling was a false flag operation since there were no artillery units there, and it was carried out from the Soviet side of the border by an NKVD unit with the purpose of providing the Soviets with a casus belli and a pretext to withdraw from the non-aggression pact. Soviet war games held in March 1938 and 1939 had been based on a scenario in which border incidents taking place at the village of Mainila would spark the war.
Molotov claimed that the incident was a Finnish artillery attack and demanded for Finland apologize for the incident and to move its forces beyond a line 12–16 mi from the border. Finland denied responsibility for the attack, rejected the demands and called for a joint Finnish–Soviet commission to examine the incident. In turn, the Soviet Union claimed that the Finnish response was hostile, renounced the non-aggression pact and severed diplomatic relations with Finland on 28 November.
Here is the statement as read by a spokesman for Risto Ryti, December 1, 1939 – from Radio Finland to NBC in New York.
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