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Security specialists: Russian aggression could expand, including into Finland

The security policy experts said that due to several different factors, predicting the situation is difficult.

Mika Aaltola Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The likelihood that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could spread to other countries and regions will increase as Russia's losses mount up and the conflict continues, according to Finnish security policy experts.

The director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Mika Aaltola, told Yle TV1's breakfast show on Monday morning that the ongoing war in Ukraine may spread beyond the Eastern European country's borders as fighting continues and intensifies.

He likened war to a plague, saying that the prevention of Russia's advancement into Kyiv and to keep the war under control was also important for Finland.

"There are signs that this may not be the case," he said.

In a lengthy series of tweets, the foreign affairs specialist said on Monday that preparations need to be made for Russia's possible expansion into neighbouring countries, including Finland. He said that the country should prepare for such a scenario by bolstering its defence capabilities.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö met with his US counterpart Joe Biden on Friday, agreeing to strengthen its ties with Washington, in light of the rapidly-changing situation in Ukraine.

Russia is becoming increasingly unpredictable as the conflict continues, according to Finnish Army General Pekka Toveri. The Russian military has had difficulty making advancements in its siege, partly due to the resistance from Ukrainian defenders, but also due to problems within its own forces, he said.

File photo of General Pekka Toveri. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Possible scenarios

He added that the strong reaction from other countries to Russia's aggression has tightened pressures on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is leading the invasion, pointing out that the situation could lead to further escalation of the war.

"One obvious solution would be for [Putin] to give up, but when a dictator loses face and gives up, he is in a weak position. Another alternative is for him to expand the war, making it a bigger conflict," explained Toveri, a former intelligence chief at Finland's Defence Command.

Toveri further noted that Putin's attempts to hire Syrians and get Belarusian troops involved in seizing Ukraine speaks to the weakness of Russia's own forces.

But both Toveri and Aaltola said they doubted that tens of thousands of Belarusian troops would be willing to get involved.

"Information has already come to light that it has been difficult for them to mobilise troops," Toveri said.

According to Aaltola, Belarusians have the same problem as many Russian troops, as many have links to Ukraine, with "a lot of soldiers going to the Ukrainian side."

Aaltola said that the most important factors that could prevent the war from spreading elsewhere include the actions of Ukraine, as well as other states, against Russia.