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A Piece of our family history: the Battle of Petäjäsaari 1940.

As a celebration of the #Finland100 I decided to write about a small but personal piece of Finnish history. A few years ago my mother asked me to find out what exactly happened to her uncle Sulo, who had disappeared during the Second World War. She knew that it had happened at the end of the Winter War in 1940, but nothing else. She gave me his full name, rough time of birth and a copy of his last letter. In that letter he wrote that he had just arrived as fresh reinforcement to a new unit.



Armed with this information I started to dig some archives and uncovered the date of Sulo's demise, only three days after the last letter was dated. The same source revealed the unit he had served in and the place of his disappearance.
Another archive hosted the war diaries of the different Finnish military units, so I dug out the diary of the 6th company of the 35th infantry regiment, that  Sulo had served in. On the very day my great uncles last letter was dated, there is actually a mention …
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Russian training focus in 2017 - Amphibious operations

For the Russian armed forces 2014 was the year of snap drills and the Ukraine war. 2015 brought in the Syrian expeditionary force and larger readiness exercises. 2016 saw the resurgence of army level operations and strategic relocation training. In 2017 the most notable change is the focus on the amphibious operations and river crossings.

Background

The Russian naval infantry was established by Peter the great in 1705. The naval infantry has been subordinated to the Russian Navy and it has never been treated as an individual service like the United States Marine Corps. While the quality of the Russian Naval infantry has varied wildly along the centuries it established an elite status during the World War 2. The importance of the Soviet Naval Infantry grew steadily and some elements of it, such as the parachute battalions, were considered equal to the VDV airborne troops.

After the Cold War the Russian military turned to face more unconventional threats and major naval landing operation…

Energy deal ties Finland to the Russian Nord Stream 2

A Finnish energy company Fortum has been negotiating with the German E.ON to buy a German energy company called Uniper. The deal has been controversial in Finland as it would include a large number of coal fired power plants that do not fit the Fortum’s strategy of becoming a sustainable and green energy producer. As 50,8 % of Fortum is owned by the Finnish government, the deal has an obvious political angle.

The most disturbing aspect of the deal is that Uniper owns a 950 Million € share of the Russo-German gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. The Finnish minister responsible for directing the state owned companies is the Center Party’s Mika Lintilä. He stated that he didn’t have any information about the Uniper’s share of the gas pipeline. He also stated that the Finnish government would not veto the deal even if it would link Finland to the controversial pipeline and Russian geopolitical interests.
Finland, unlike the Baltic States and Sweden, refuses to a acknowledge the geopoliti…

Ruska 17: Finland and Sweden train to fight side by side

The Finnish Air Force, Ilmavoimat, has begun it’s largest exercise of the year, the Ruska 17, today. Exercise focuses on training an integrated air-defense force to fight against an unnamed peer-level adversary. It involves everything from base security and logistics to the advanced command centers and fighter jets.


The Ruska 17 will include roughly 5100 conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers, 30 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters, 14 BAE Hawk trainers, CASA C-295M transports, Pilatus PC-12NG and Learjet 35 A/S liaison aircrafts from the Finnish Air Force. Additionally the Finnish army will provide some troops and an unspecified number of the NH-90 helicopters.


The Swedish Air Force is participating in the annual RUSKA-series of exercises for the second time. In 2016 Swedes operated as an aggressor unit and the two air forces fought each others over the skies of Finland. This year, for the very first time, Swedish Flygvapnet joins the Finnish Ilmavoimat and both train together…

Russian Oktoberfest - the Activation of the entire Russian army

Even though the Zapad2017 drill, that rehearsed assault through the Baltics to relieve the Kaliningrad enclave, has ended, the Russian armed forces are not resting on their laurels. Today Russia announced that it will begin a control check that will include all military units in all of the military branches.

The control checks will be conducted in two phases. During the first phase of the tests over 300 active duty formations will be brought to combat readiness and tested by the inspectors. These checks will happen before the 15th of October. The checks will be held in 120 training areas across the Russian federation. There will be a significant number of tactical level exercises with troops relocating from their bases to the training areas. The amount of ground forces combat units involved can reach up to 120 000 soldiers.
The only exception to this rule are the units that participated in the Zapad2017 exercise, these units will be inspected by the respective unit commanders and t…

The return of the chemical warfare and other quirks from Russia

There have been couple of new features present in Russian military exercises this year. The first is the return of the chemical warfare. Not in the form of poison gases, but as a mean to mask friendly movements and actions from surveillance.
From the latest massive strategic nuclear forces drill in Kamchatka to the docks in the white sea and railway crossings in Ufa, the chemical warfare soldiers of the Russian army have been using their ARS-14 KM decontamination vehicles, that is based on the standard KAMAZ-43114 cross-country trucks, to lay thick screens of unspecified aerosols. These chemicals are designed to obscure western intelligence satellites and recon aircraft from observing the action below.

When combined with properly enforced security perimeters and smoke screens, that can be laid by specialized vehicles like the similarly Kamaz based TDA-3, Russian army is now able to add a further layer of confusion to it’s snap drills aka. maskirovka mobilizations. It will be next …

Sabotage and Spetsnatz threaten Ukraine

As the night fell, a large Ukrainian armed forces ammunition storage was engulfed in flames at Kalynivka. The fires spread rapidly across the facility that contained 188,000 tons of munitions. Luckily most of the compartmentalization features, such as bunkers and steel walls have managed to limit the damage to about 30 % of the munitions stored there.

This is the third ammunitions dump fire in Ukraine recently. All of these have been active facilities that are storing relevant and modern munitions and all have been feeding the Ukrainian Army units defending Ukraine against the Russian aggression. These are not some half-derelict old depots, looked after by the washouts the military wants to hide from sight.
The Ukrainian security service has claimed that the previous fires/explosions were Russian sabotage operations. The Balakliya dump was claimed to have ignited by an explosive device dropped from a Russian drone. Similar claims have already surfaced from the latest explosion.

The S…