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Top general: Finland has spent decades preparing for a war like Ukraine's

In an interview with Reuters, General Timo Kivinen said that "the main responsibility for Finland's defence will still be borne by Finland".

Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Timo Kivinen. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

General Timo Kivinen, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF), spoke about Finland's tradition of military preparedness in a recent interview with Reuters (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

While Finland has a sizeable defence arsenal, Kivinen pointed to Finland's motivation to defend itself if attacked.

"The most important line of defence is between one's ears, as the war in Ukraine proves at the moment," Kivinen told the news agency.

In a May poll conducted by the defence ministry, four out of five respondents said they would be willing to participate in national defence if Finland was attacked.

The Reuters article mentioned Finland's history of conflict with its eastern neighbour and how sharing a 1,300 kilometre border has shaped the Nordic nation's military preparedness.

"We have systematically developed our military defence precisely for this type of warfare that is being waged there (in Ukraine), with a massive use of firepower, armoured forces and also air forces," Kivinen emphasised.

Finland's military strength

Finland has 280,000 military personnel ready in the case of conflict, with an additional 870,000 trained as reservists—a product of adhering to national military service for all males, unlike many other Western countries in the post-Cold War era.

In addition to its troop strength, Finland boasts one of the strongest artillery corps in Europe and has built up an arsenal of cruise missiles with ranges up to 370 kilometres. Adding to this firepower in the coming years will be four new corvettes for the Finnish Navy, 64 F-35 fighter jets for the Finnish Air Force and nearly 2,000 drones.

"Ukraine has been a tough bite to chew (for Russia) and so would Finland be," the general said in the interview.

Despite the country's sizable military, Kivinen welcomed Finland's decision to apply for Nato. Nato membership would benefit Finnish defence by boosting its early warning capacity—as it would be part of the organisation's joint airspace control.

Additionally, Kivinen explained that Nato's collective defence—an attack on one member being an attack on all members—would serve as a strong deterrence against Russian aggression.

Even though he believed joining Nato would bolster Finland's defence capabilities, the general clarified that "the main responsibility for Finland's defence will still be borne by Finland."