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Is the Finnish security environment deteriorating?

Two rather ominous news broke form Russia on7.8.2019. Russian Northern Fleet has deployed Bal anti-ship missiles to Keskisaarento (полуостров Средний).These missiles are within striking range from the most important Norwegian radar station at Vardo. They also have the capability to interdict all shipping to the Kirkenes habour.

Bal Anti-ship missile launherKeskustelu


Russia has also established a new helicopter / forward base to Gogland island (Suursaari) on the Gulf of Finland. This base allows the Russian armed forces to rapidly airlift their SOF units to either the Finnish or Estonian territory. The base also allows Russia to exert increasing control over the waters of the gulf.Its noteworthy that both of these territories belonged to Finland before the start of the World War Two. From the Finnish point of view the message is clear, Russia is staging forces to the old Finnish soil.

Russian SOF fast roping from a Mi-8 helicopter


On the western side of the border, the usual calm of the Finnish defense discussion is experiencing a rare storm. While there have always been underlying differences between the parties and even more so between the fractions within the parties, the public discussion has rarely seen direct confrontations over the defense matters.



Following the parliamentary election this spring the Finnish government has changed, after four years of center right rule the new government was formed by the leftist parties, together with the center party. The center party was instrumental in the Cold War era finlandization that saw USSR exerting considerable amount of control over the Finnish politics. The leading Social Democrat party's foreign policy line has long been in the hands of a few old anti-NATO diehards, like Erkki Tuomioja.

Prime minister Antti Rinne a social democrat trade unionist, with no experience in defense or foreign policy 

The new Prime Minister Antti Rinne launched a rather open and public attack towards the recently chosen Finnish Chief of Defense General Timo Kivinen. PM Rinne has stated that the new ChoD should remember his place and shouldn’t step into the public discussion unless to support the government line.



The Finnish Chief of Defense Kivinen is known as a no-nonsense officer. He is a Ranger trained infantry officer who commanded the Finnish paratroopers and helped to create the present day Finnish Special Forces.



It’s very worrying that the Prime minister Rinne is applying this much pressure towards the new Chief, especially as the Commander in Chief of the Finnish Defense Forces is the President Sauli Niinistö, not the Prime minister Rinne.


It's also noteworthy, that Finland is currently holding the presidency of the council of the European Union. So it would be particularly important for the Finnish leadership to present a unified front towards Russia.




How much power do the anti-western and pro-Russian fractions in the government parties actually wield?



Is Finland going stay on its present course towards deeper integration with USA, UK and Sweden?



Will Russia use the recent confusion to test the new Finnish government?



How will the flaring hot spots and problems with the creation of the European naval operation for the Strait of Hormuz effect the Finland’s perceived ability to get help?

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