Porkkala


Porkkala

Porkkala ( _sv. Porkala) is a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland located at Kirkkonummi (Kyrkslätt) in Southern Finland.

The peninsula had great strategic value, as coastal artillery based there would be able to reach more than halfway across the Gulf of Finland. If the same power would also control the Estonian coast, on the opposite side of the gulf, it would then be able to block naval access from Saint Petersburg to the Baltic Sea. Porkkala is furthermore located only 30 kilometers from Helsinki, the Finnish capital, and a foreign power based there would be able to exert significant pressure on the Finnish government.

Nowadays the coasts of the peninsula are popular bird watching areas during spring migration as the Arctic geese and other waterfowl are on their passage.

History

During the Cold War the Soviet Union secured the rights of lease to a naval base at Porkkala, in accordance with the armistice agreement that ended the Continuation War, between Finland and the Soviets, in 1944 (Porkkala thus replaced the peninsula of Hanko, Finland (in Swedish Hangö), which had been leased to the Soviets by the Soviet-Finnish Treaty, originally for 30 years, as Soviet naval base in 1940-41). A large area centered on the peninsula, including land from the municipalities of Kirkkonummi, Siuntio and Ingå and almost the entire area of Degerby, was leased to the USSR from 10 February 1947.

On 19 September 1944 the Finnish Baltic peninsula of Porkkala was occupied by the Soviet Union, which immediately placed it under a military commander, Neon Vasilyevich Antonov (b. 1907 - d. 1948), who remained in office till June 1945.

No Soviet civilian administration was set up, the USSR simply administered it through the military Commander of Porkkala, a post held (from an unclear date) until 1 January 1956 to Sergey Ivanovich Kabanov (b. 1901 - d. 1973), the former Commander of Hanko naval base.

Although the Soviet lease for Porkkala had been conceded for 50 years, agreement was reached to return it earlier (negotiations ended during autumn 1955). Control was handed back to Finland in January 1956. This may be attributed to the process of Finlandization and to technological progress making coastal artillery obsolete, but the renunciation of Stalinism by the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev, and the fact that Finland had undertaken to adopt neutrality and so remain out of NATO, were also important contributing factors.

At present, the Porkkala area has one of the main bases of the Finnish Navy, located in Upinniemi near to Porkkala proper.

ources and external links

* [http://www.histdoc.net/history/hanko.html Details about Hanko and Porkkala leased bases, maps]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Finland.html WorldStatesmen- Finland- Hanko and Porkkala]


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