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Defence minister: Finland prepared for hybrid influence attempts

Europe should brace for more hybrid attacks, but Finland does not currently face a major hybrid threat, said Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen).

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) was interviewed on the Yle talk programme Ykkösaamu on Saturday. Image: Yle
Yle News

Finland does not currently face a major threat of hybrid influence, according to Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen). In Kaikkonen's view, the country is well prepared for possible hybrid influence attempts from abroad.

However Europe should be prepared for the possibility of more hybrid attacks, he told Yle on Saturday, noting that investigations are underway about the Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions and sabotage of railways in Northern Germany.

He also pointed to Monday's power outage on the Danish island of Bornholm, which is near the site of the pipeline explosions, as well an increase in ship and aircraft traffic in the vicinity of undersea communication cables and Norwegian oil rigs.

"These are signs of a tense security situation, where various events can be interpreted as part of a larger whole," said Kaikkonen. There have also been reports of increased drone activity near Finnish infrastructure sites.

On Saturday neighbouring Norway reported the detention of a second Russian man charged with flying a drone in Norway this week. He was found taking photographs at Tromsø Airport on Friday, public broadcaster NRK reported on Saturday.

Officials tight-lipped on potential vulnerabilities

Kaikkonen reiterated the view generally held by western governments that the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines was a deliberate act that required a level of capability that suggests a state actor.

Since the pipeline blasts, there has been media interest in possible vulnerabilities in Finland's critical infrastructure. Kaikkonen said that officials will not discuss them publicly.

"The authorities protect their own operations, and therefore cannot tell precisely what they know or don't know. Commenting could easily provide others with information party about our ability to detect and combat threats," explained Kaikkonen.

"If you see something, say something"

President Sauli Niinistö has warned several times about a new phase of Russia's war against Ukraine – and urged people in Finland to pay attention if something unusual takes place in their surroundings.

"Such observations should be reported to the local police, for example," Kaikkonen said, noting that there is also a channel for reporting observations on the website of the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo). The agency has a tip-off form (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to advise Supo of terrorism, extremism, foreign espionage, or any other danger to Finland’s national security.

According to Supo, the threat of intelligence and influence targeting Finland's critical infrastructure has increased both in the physical and cyber environments. In particular, companies and organisations with critical infrastructure should bolster their security, the agency said. However, Supo does not consider it likely that Finland's infrastructure could be paralysed in the near future.

"Everyone should be prepared to survive short-term disruptions, such as power outages. The Finnish 72-hour home storage concept is good and there is plenty of information about it online. These household supplies should include food, water and medicine for three days," said Kaikkonen.

More information about the home storage concept is available on the 72hours (siirryt toiseen palveluun) website of the Finnish National Rescue Association, which partners with an array of official agencies.

18.08: Added information about Norwegian arrest.

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