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Thus, Soviet Russia (later the USSR) recognised the new Finnish government just three weeks after the declaration.Finland joined the League of Nations in 1920, from which it sought security guarantees, but Finland's primary goal was cooperation with the Scandinavian countries.The period after the Finnish Civil War till the early 1930s proved a politically unstable time in Finland due to the continued rivalry between the conservative and socialist parties.The Communist Party of Finland was declared illegal in 1931, and the nationalist Lapua Movement organised anti-communist violence, which culminated in a failed coup attempt in 1932.Finland also received Petsamo, with its ice-free harbour on the Arctic Ocean.Despite the signing of the treaty, relations between the two countries remained strained.
The conflict began after the Soviets sought to obtain some Finnish territory, demanding among other concessions that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons—primarily the protection of Leningrad, 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocols as evidence of this, Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as −43 °C (−45 °F).
The Finnish government allowed volunteers to cross the border to support the East Karelian uprising in Russia in 1921, and Finnish communists in the Soviet Union continued to prepare for a revanche and staged a cross-border raid into Finland, called the Pork mutiny, in 1922.
During Stalin's rule, Soviet propaganda painted Finland's leadership as a "vicious and reactionary fascist clique".
Field Marshal Mannerheim and Väinö Tanner, the leader of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, were targeted for particular scorn.
When Stalin gained absolute power through the Great Purge of 1938, the USSR changed its foreign policy toward Finland and began pursuing the reconquest of the provinces of Tsarist Russia lost during the chaos of the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War almost two decades earlier.
After the Soviet military reorganised and adopted different tactics, they renewed their offensive in February and overcame Finnish defenses.