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Russia incapable of general mobilisation, Finnish military expert says

The Kremlin announced the partial mobilising of 300,000 reserves on Wednesday.

Suomalainen vakituisesta palveluksesta eronnut kenraalimajuri Pekka Toveri Helsingin Tervasaaressa.   Hän toimi puolustusvoimien pääesikunnan tiedustelupäällikkönä vuosina 2019–2020. Hän erosi vakituisesta palveluksesta vuoden 2020 lopussa.
Pekka Toveri, former intelligence chief of Finland's Defense Command, says that the partial mobilisation is a sign of Russia's losing game and does not signal further concern. Image: Toni Määttä / Yle
Yle News

The partial mobilisation of military reservists ordered on Wednesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin was expected and should not be a reason for further concern, Finland's Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the former head of the Finland Defence Command Intelligence Division Pekka Toveri told Yle that the mobilisation call is essentially the Kremlin's last resort.

"Since no war has been declared in Russia, it seems that a general mobilisation would not be possible. On the other hand, they wouldn't even have the resources. Theoretically, there is a reserve of a couple of million soldiers, but in practice there is no movement deployment system," Toveri said, while speaking on Yle's radio programme Radio Suomen Päivä.

He added that Russia has a shortage of materiel and does not have the capacity to train soldiers. A general mobilisation would thus cause major economic challenges and domestic political risks for the Kremlin.

Sources have hinted towards Russia pursuing other options, such as using specially trained soldiers from the navy as foot soldiers.

"It's indicative of big losses and shortages. With a partial mobilisation, properly trained tank crew, motorised infantry and artillery can be hand-picked from the reserve," Toveri said, adding that the effort was likely the fastest way to address the situation in the Donbass region.

Nuclear threat indicative of desperation

During his speech on Wednesday, Putin also hinted at the use of nuclear weapons.

"When Putin mentioned his readiness to use all possible means, he meant nuclear weapons. They'll soon have nothing else left," Toveri said, adding that he thought the use of nuclear weapons was unlikely, as such a move would mean unprecedented consequences for Russia.

Russia likely has no interest in expanding the war to other areas, Toveri further noted, especially considering its lack of resources.

"The resources of the Russian armed forces are mostly tied up in Ukraine. There is no threat to Finland," he said.

Minister Kaikkonen: No surprises here

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen echoed Toveri's position. Speaking at a conference held on Wednesday afternoon, he said the news on Putin's partial mobilisation was not surprising, as it was clear that Russia is unable to achieve its goals with its current numbers.

Kaikkonen added that Finland's security situation was stable and there was no reason for people in Finland to worry.

"Of course, this is a serious, sad and gloomy situation. And we would wish that this horrible war would end soon. Unfortunately, today's news regarding the partial mobilisation point towards the contrary," he said.

The minister added that the granting of visas to Russian citizens could be further tightened, in his opinion. He noted that the EU community would continue to support Ukraine in all the various ways that it can.

Halla-aho: Finland should close borders to Russians

Finland should react swiftly to the Kremlin's decision, former Finns Party leader and current chair of Parliament's foreign affairs committee Jussi Halla-aho said.

"We have a country next-door that announces through its defence minister that it is at war with Western countries, Finns should draw conclusions from this, for example regarding the free movement of Russians," Halla-aho said.

According to Halla-aho, the next logical step would be to prevent Russian citizens from entering Finland.

"At the very least, Finland should show solidarity towards Ukraine and the Baltic countries as well as Poland and close the last land border through which Russian tourists and people who may be posing as tourists are currently able to enter the Schengen area," Halla-aho said.

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