Allied Assistance

The Soviet leadership was opening peace feelers with Finland (via Sweden) as early as the end of January, and offering the original terms that they demanded before the fighting began. What kept Finland fighting, however, was the hope of intervention from the Western Allies. These peace overtures were kept quiet by the Finnish government, so as far as the world was concerned Finland was still in a war for national survival.

In February, the Allies offered to help and formulated a plan for the relief of Finland. 100,000 British and 35,000 French troops would disembark at the Norwegian port of Narvik and support Finland via Sweden while securing the supply routes along the way. The Allies would be ready to put this plan into operation by mid-March, but only on the condition that Finland pleaded for help to provide an adequate casus belli. On the 2nd March, the Allies formally requested transit rights from the governments of Norway and Sweden with this plan in mind.

Sweden was highly sceptical of this plan however. Suggestions that the Allies could land directly in Finland via the port of Petsamo were dismissed. Also Hitler had in December declared that Western troops on Swedish soil would provoke an immediate German invasion, thus bringing Sweden into the war on the side of the Allies and thus strengthening the Allied position. Finally, only a small fraction of the Allied troops were actually intended for Finland. Suspicion naturally grew that the actual intent of the Allied plan was to occupy Sweden and Norway and prevent their valuable resources from being used by the Nazis. Consequently, the Swedish government decided to reject the plan.

Nevertheless the plan had the effect of prolonging the war - while Berlin and Stockholm were pressuring the Finns to accept the terms offered, Paris and London were effectively prolonging it by constantly offering military aid. On the 29th of February the Russians were approaching the city of Viipuuri, and the Finnish government decided to start peace negotiations. When France and Britain realised this, they immediately offered yet more aid - though with the same conditions regarding Sweden and Norway. The Finns dithered - and the war went on.

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