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Defence Minister: Russia must be held accountable for harassment in international waters

Finland’s Minister of Defence Carl Haglund says news of Russian Navy interference with a Finnish marine research vessel on international waters is unfortunate. He says he will demand a full report from Russia on the reasons for the illegal disturbance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also commented that it is prepared to take the appropriate diplomatic steps, if necessary.

Kuvia Arandalta
Photos from the September 2 incident between the Russian Navy and the Finnish marine research vessel Aranda show how close the Russian warship and helicopter were to the Finnish ship. Image: VG-Shipping

Minister of Defence Carl Haglund says the reasons for the harassment of the Finnish marine research vessel Aranda must be investigated. The incidents occurred in international waters, where several treaties have established absolute freedom of navigation.

“It is an unfortunate incident that must be investigated. In my view, the relevant authorities should request a report on the matter in order to avoid similar incidents in the future,” Haglund told Yle via his assistant. He was not prepared to comment further on the matter.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take diplomatic action if necessary

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is worried by the preliminary data it has seen regarding the incidents. Ari Honkanen, a content and communications specialist at the Ministry, says the ministry will investigate the incidents and make contact with the Russian authorities if deemed necessary.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot investigate incidents occurring in international waters, but it will naturally be in contact with the applicable authorities, in this case the Defence Forces. If the situation requires follow-up measures with Russia, the ministry is prepared to take the appropriate diplomatic steps,” says Honkanen.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not have enough information at this time to determine if the August airspace incursions and the Aranda incidents are linked.

Warship one of Russia’s newest models

The warship in question was one of the newest models in the Baltic Sea fleet of the Russian Navy, a Steregushchy-class corvette sailing under the number 532 and name Boikiy. The ship, considered a frigate by NATO, was taken in service in May 2013. Warships such as this are normally used for littoral zone operations, engagement of enemy submarines or surface ships and gun support of landing operations

A new hull architecture and fire-resistant radar-absorbent fibreglass design means the ship is difficult to detect with radar. The 105-metre vessel contains a crew of 100 and a helicopter, the same one seen in the pictures taken from the Aranda above.  

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