Finland and Soviet Union Hold Negotiations to Resolve Border Dispute

On 5 October 1939, the Soviet Union invited a Finnish delegation to Moscow for negotiations.

J.K. Paasikivi, the Finnish ambassador to Sweden, was sent to Moscow to represent the Finnish government. The Soviets demanded that the border between the USSR and Finland on the Karelian Isthmus be moved westward to a point only 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Viipuri and that the Finns destroy all existing fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus. They also demanded the cession of islands in the Gulf of Finland as well as the Kalastajansaarento peninsula. Furthermore, the Finns would have to lease the Hanko Peninsula for the thirty years and permit the Soviets to establish a military base there. In exchange, the Soviet Union would cede two parishes with twice the territory demanded from Finland. Accepting Soviet demands would have forced the Finns to dismantle their defences in Finnish Karelia.

The Soviet offer divided the Finnish government, but it was eventually rejected. On 31 October, in the assembly of the Supreme Soviet, Molotov announced Soviet demands in public. The Finns made two counteroffers whereby Finland would cede the Terijoki area to the Soviet Union, far less than the Soviets had demanded.

Following the failure of negotiations, the Soviets started an intensive mobilisation near the Finnish border in 1938–1939. Assault troops necessary for invasion did not begin deployment until October 1939. Operational plans made in September called for the invasion to start in November.

Very soon they were asked to send delegations to Moscow for discussions on mutual defense matters and shortly thereafter there were Russian troops stationed in certain areas of all three of the Baltic States. Only Finland did not bend. The Finnish negotiators pointed out that given the developments in weaponry a military presence on the northern coast of the Finnish Gulf was unnecessary in order to safeguard the maritime road to Leningrad. The Russians pushed aside this argument.