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Defence Minister at odds with military leadership over defense policy

Ilkka Kanerva, chair of the Parliament’s Defence Committee, told Yle that Finland should be prepared for all threats, regardless of them coming as a surprise or not.

Ruska-harjoituksessa lennetään yli 50 koneella tällä viikolla.
The military is planning on investing in new fighter jets in coming years. Image: Ilmavoimat

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö and the country's military leadership are at odds over defence policy, according to a report in today's Helsingin Sanomat.

According to experts interviewed by the paper, the Defence Minister favours a larger trained reserve and traditional forces.

Niinistö has proposed increasing the reserve force from the current 230,000 to 280,000. The complement was reduced a few years ago due to savings. In practice, increasing the reserve force would mean more military refresher courses and upgrading the equipment of regional troops.

This is in contrast with General Jarmo Lindberg’s evaluations that any military threat would probably come as a rapid, surprise move.

Ilkka Kanerva, the chair of the Parliament’s Defence Committee, stresses that Finland should be prepared for all threats, regardless of them coming as a surprise or not.

“Even in case of an unexpected first strike, we will still need a reserve to thwart further attacks”, Kanerva told Yle.

Kanerva points out how hybrid warfare has landed in Europe.

“We’re facing completely new threats, and hybrid warfare is present every day. This means we can’t rely on one kind of defence strategy.”

The Parliament’s Defence Committee is expecting to review a new official defence policy position paper that will be finalised later this month.

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