This positive development can be ascribed to the fact that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, which led to a sharp cooling of the relations between Russia and the West, has partly fallen out of the Finnish media's focus. In 2014, when the fear of Russians reached its peak in Finland, Finnish mainstream media were also swamped with reports about Crimea's re-unification with Russia, which was in terms like "aggression," "annexation" and "occupation," which helped bolster the image of Russia as an antagonist.
"It seems that the feeling of imminent threat caused by the events of 2014, is already partly forgotten. In recent years, the Russian militarily has been active in Syria, but this is not perceived as a threat. The situation, however, may change once the conflict in Ukraine flares up again," researcher of international politics Matti Pesu from the University of Tampere told Yle.
In both Finland and Sweden, which are the only Nordic countries remaining non-aligned, a bilateral alliance is often seen as an alternative of joining NATO. Both Swedish and Finnish politicians and military bosses have repeatedly stressed the need for closer defense cooperation, yet refrained from establishing a formal alliance.
In Sweden, though, the public are systematically being indoctrinated about Russian "aggression" and intimidated by imminent Russian attacks. Recently, Major General Björn Andersson, Secretary of the Royal War Academy, suggested that a Russian attack would come as a total surprise and ensured his countrymen that it would take Russians one to two days to invade Norrland, Sweden's largest and northernmost region. According to him, the same was applicable to the island of Gotland and southern Sweden.
"Their aim is surely to re-create a Greater Russia to gain control over neighbors in one way or another," Björn Andersson told startled northerners during a lecture in Luleå, as quoted by Swedish national broadcaster SVT.
Remarkably, though, a January poll by the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter revealed a rising percentage of Swedes that were hesitant about the perspective of joining NATO. Two thirds of Swedes were simultaneously found to question Sweden's ability to defend itself.
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