Primary Documents - Soviet Recognition of Finland's Independence, 18 December 1917

Lenin Finland's response to the onset of the First World War in August 1914 was somewhat apathetic.  Its populace was split in its support of German or Russian forces, despite Finland forming a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Empire.  Consequently only a few thousand Finnish citizens enlisted in the Russian cause.

In the wake of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia the Finnish National Assembly demanded independence in all but name.  This was rejected by Russia's Provisional Government which responded by dissolving Finland's National Assembly in July 1917.  The ensuing elections did not produce the result the Russian government hoped for, with its production of a decidedly pro-German majority.

In December a full declaration of independence by the Finnish government was accepted by the new Soviet government.  A formal treaty was signed between Finland and the Soviet government in October 1920.

Text of the Ems Telegram, sent by Heinrich Abeken of the Foreign Office under Kaiser Wilhelm's Instruction to Bismarck

The Soviet of People's Commissars
December 18, 1917
No. 101

As the answer to the appeal of the Finnish Government to recognise the independence of the Republic of Finland, the Soviet of People's Commissars, in full accordance with the principle of nations' right to self-determination, HAS DECIDED:

To propose to the Central Executive Committee that:

a. The independence of the Republic of Finland as a country is recognised, and

b. A special Commission, in agreement with the Finnish Government, comprising members of both parties, should be instituted to elaborate those practical measures that follow from the partition of Finland from Russia.

Chairman of the Soviet of People's Commissars
Vl. Ulianov (Lenin)

People's Commissars:
L. Trotski
G. Petrovski
J. Stalin
I. Steinberg
V. Karelin
A. Schlichter

The Chief of Bureau Vlad. Bonch-Bruevich

Secretary of the Soviet N. Gorbunov

Duck-Boards comprised slatted wooden planking used for flooring trenches or muddy ground.

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