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Officials see signs of hybrid warfare in migrant crisis

The Finnish Defence Forces, the Finnish Border Guard and police have all recently updated their approaches to respond to possible hybrid warfare threats. Military researcher Antti Paronen says the vast numbers of asylum-seekers in Europe could be used as fodder in political pressuring and armed aggression.

Antti Paronen.
Military researcher Antti Paronen. Image: Yle

Politicians in Finland and the EU have discovered elements of so-called hybrid warfare in the ongoing migrant crisis.

Politicos who say they have spotted signs of mixed-strategy aggression in Russia's actions on its Finnish border are ex-Minister of the Interior Päivi Räsänen and Defence Committee chair Ilkka Kanerva.

Military researcher, officer Antti Paronen from the National Defence University says that the great number of migrants moving through Europe can easily be seen as potential tools in political pressuring tactics and military hostilities.

Steering the flow of mass migration is a typical method in the arsenal of the so-called "grey phase" of hybrid warfare.

"The events of Salla and Raja-Jooseppi can be seen as methods of pressure consciously used by Russia," Paronen says. "It is still premature to use wartime terminology because other aspects of hybrid warfare such as conventional armed conflict have obviously not arisen."

These early-phase tactics of hybrid warfare can be seen as a way to test Finland's administrative capabilities as well as its decision-making capacity.

Russia has tested the readiness of the EU's outer borders in recent times by operating in Finland's airspace and official waters.

The Finnish Border Guard says that the situation at the Lapland border-crossing points of Salla and Raja-Jooseppi has not changed, despite cooperation talks between Finland and Russia. Some twenty asylum-seekers still cross Finland's eastern border daily.

"In addition to seeing how a country's official bureaucracy and administrative system copes with migration, hybrid operations also gauge how a country's population reacts to dramatic events," Paronen analyses. "It's a matter of surveying the national mood."

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