During the Cold War, Finland tried to preserve its neutrality and balance its relationships with both the USSR and the states of Europe. And although the CIA tried to treat the entire country as if it were one of its operational bases, on the whole, Helsinki’s policy was quite reasonable. The Finnish leaders’ balanced approach helped launch the creation of the OSCE, and Helsinki often served as a platform for international dialog.
Of all the EU members, Finland shares the longest border with the Russian Federation. Most Russian Internet traffic traveling to Europe passes through Finland as well. There is enormous potential there for cooperation. But there is also the potential for conflict, which other countries are trying to take advantage of.
In recent years the situation has greatly deteriorated, as we can plainly see. In addition to the sanctions that Finland is a part of, an unhealthy level of military activity is also occurring in that country. Finnish opposition leaders believe this activity is intended to push Finland — which is still officially neutral — into potential aggression against Russia.
From October 4-19, the US hosted the RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1 military exercises. Finland also participated, sending six F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. This was the first time that the Finns have sent their planes to the US to take part in these maneuvers (which are being held in Alaska and Nevada). But immediately prior to RED FLAG, the Finnish air force conducted the Distant Frontier 1 joint bilateral exercises with their American counterparts. Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and the commander-in-chief of the Finnish armed forces, General Jarmo Lindberg, were in the United States for that entire period.
The main reason for the Finnish pilots’ presence in the US is not so they can obtain more advanced training, but so they can be specially certified and allowed to participate in what are being called multinational operations. Usually NATO or the US conducts such operations with their partners. Afghanistan and Syria have been two theaters for such engagements. At present, the US Air Force is running short on pilots and is therefore trying to use its foreign partners to fill this void. Some Finnish analysts, Pentti Sainio in particular, believe that Finland is already involved in similar campaigns orchestrated by the US, but that these facts are being carefully concealed from the public.
Another large-scale maneuver that the Finns will take part in is the Trident Juncture 2018, which will be held in two stages in Norway, beginning on Oct. 25 and lasting an entire month. According to the announcements, the maneuvers will involve 50,000 troops, 250 aircraft, and 65 ships from 30 countries. The Swedes, who are also still officially neutral at present, will have a role in these exercises as well. As stated at a press conference by the commander of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, Lieutenant General Rune Jacobsen, Finland and Sweden will also provide the use of their airspace and airfields. Thus it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the neutrality of these two countries is somewhat relative. On a side note, a joint Swedish-Finnish air force exercise already took place in September, during which Swedish aircraft landed at Finnish airfields.
In addition, according to insider sources in Finland, in the near future the country plans to transition to a new defense model, which would entail a joint system with the armed forces of other states. It is not difficult to guess that the leading role in this reform will be played by NATO and the United States.
They have stepped up their collaboration with other members of the North Atlantic Alliance. On Oct. 4, Finland and France signed an agreement on defense cooperation at NATO headquarters.
Further substantiating the fact that these are ominous developments for Russia — Carl Bild, who worked for the CIA while serving as prime minister of Sweden, has published an article claiming that the Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian air forces have already integrated and that this will be on show during the upcoming exercises. Finland must show what its naval forces are capable of in the Baltic Sea. In other words, NATO already has de facto access to the strategic commands of the two countries, as well as influence over their decision-making.
Obviously these steps, taken by Finland’s leaders at the instigation of their Western partners, violate the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, which are still in effect, but which many Finnish politicians today are trying to avoid remembering.
And in addition to their own NATO members, foreign emissaries are also being dispatched to Finland. One of the key figures behind the current pro-NATO propaganda is Leo Michel, who directs the New Challenges for Strategic Deterrence in the 21st Century project (Strategisen pelotteen haasteet 2000-luvulla), which is funded by the government of Finland. He previously worked for the CIA, Pentagon, and NATO and now holds the position of Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the US Defense Department.
The Finnish head of state has taken quite an ambiguous stance toward the future of Finland.
When asked in a Sept. 15 interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung if he viewed Russia as a threat, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto replied: “No, I don’t think Russia will attack any of the Baltic states, and there is no reason to attack Finland. There is more of a global threat, but there is also a healthy balance. If there were a war, nobody would win.”
But speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Sept. 27, he stated, “A stronger Europe means a stronger NATO. And a stronger Europe is a more useful partner for the United States … Finland takes its own defence very seriously. After the end of the Cold War, we never let our guard down. Our citizens’ will to defend their country is the strongest in Europe. Maintaining a strong national defence sends two powerful messages. It is a threshold against potential aggressors. And it makes us a more interesting partner. This is evident in our close bilateral cooperation with many NATO countries, including the … Russia has been doing it aggressively, flexing its military muscles, and also using them, as we have seen in Ukraine and Syria.”
So which is it? A naively short memory, schizophrenia, or double standards? Most likely the latter. And such a hypocritical policy will, one way or another, force Russia to react.