Finland’s defence force chief Jarmo Lindberg says Finland’s operating environment has changed as a result of the events in Ukraine and Crimea.
Russia has expanded its training exercises in the last few years, including large-scale war simulations. The amount of activity close to Finland has also been on the rise, says Lindberg.
“The entire volume of activity near Finland’s borders has grown. For this reason, we need to re-examine our preparedness accordingly,” he said.
He is quick to point out, however, that Russia has not actually done anything with regard to Finland that could be regarded as an acute threat.
He says the recent decision by the Russian Armed Forces to reopen an abandoned military base on the Kola Peninsula in the Russia city of Alakurtti, just 60 kilometres from the Finnish border city, is not a major move in the grand scheme of things, as there are less than 5,000 soldiers currently stationed there.
Nordic cooperation “nothing new”
Lindberg says defence cooperation between the Nordic countries is nothing new. His comment came after a move from the defence ministers of all five Nordic countries on Friday to expand joint defence operations. When it comes to Russia, however, Lindberg says Finland should concentrate on its own preparedness, in other words, anticipation and response.
He says the Nordics have cooperated for years already in the area in material acquisitions and exercises, but exercises with Sweden are fresher in people’s minds.
At the same time that Finns wonder about Russia’s seemingly endless military exercises, Lindberg says it is good for them to remember that Finland is also continuously practicing.
When Russia sent 80,000 men to training, Finland was holding its own military exercises involving 6,000 soldiers and air and naval equipment. The Finnish Defence Forces conduct weekly exercises with thousands of soldiers, and defence capacity is constantly being adjusted to suit the prevailing conditions.
“Finland will endure. Our defence maintains a sharp initial response capability and a substantial reserve to back it up,” says Lindberg.