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Finnish Air Force steps up surveillance amid "interesting traffic" over Baltic

The Air Force is beefing up its airspace monitoring as American and Russian planes carry out manoeuvres nearby.

Ossi Sivén.
Image: Yle

The Finnish Air Force has stepped up surveillance of Finland’s airspace as a result of the Crimean crisis.

“Military planes in nearby areas east and south of Finland are flying in different ways and in different directions than usually, which is why the Karelian Air Command in Rissala is more alert than usual,” says the unit’s commander, Col. Ossi Sivén. The unit is based in Rissala, part of the municipality of Siilinjärvi, north of Kuopio in eastern Finland.

“It’s clear that we’re adjusting our own readiness. This means that in a certain direction the radar is being used slightly more than usual and also that the fighter jets that are on duty may operate in somewhat different places and for longer periods of time,” he told Yle on Wednesday.

Sivén’s descriptions of the military planes’ movements in areas near Finland refer to regions within a few hundred kilometres of the nation’s borders. Russia has been carrying out military exercises on the Karelian Isthmus and has been shifting its own planes around, while the United States is bringing fighter jets into Poland and the Baltic States.

"We won't be asleep"

“The Baltic Sea is part of our sphere of interest and there has been interesting traffic over it,” notes Sivén. “Nothing very surprising has happened near our borders, but as more military jets are being deployed, then one should be prepared for the fact that they can be used in a variety of ways.”

Sivén emphasises that Russia’s actions are not aimed at Finland and that there is no reason for undue concern among the public or the Air Command itself, but that "certain things must be ascertained".

"If something unusual happens then we won’t be asleep at the switch at that point. Rather we’ll be ready to guard this airspace, which is our main duty."

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