Janne Känkänen, the head of the National Emergency Supply Agency (HVK), talked about the cybersecurity and security of supply ramifications of the war in Ukraine in Helsinki on Thursday, 10 March 2022. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE WAR in Ukraine may initially cause shortages of natural gas and raw materials for fertilisers in Finland, views Janne Känkänen, the director of the National Emergency Supply Agency (HVK).

“The war’s indirect and ripple effects may be felt in various ways also here,” he said in a press conference in Helsinki on Thursday. “In addition to energy security and natural gas, we’re paying attention especially to securing inputs for primary production in regards to seasons coming after the current harvest season.”

“We’re talking about longer-term preparedness.”

Russian natural gas is a significant problem particularly for businesses, as it is difficult to replace with imports from other parts of the world. The focus of oil purchases, on the other hand, has already been shifted away from Russia.

Känkänen said Finland has prepared relatively well to situations such as the crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The country has substantial stockpiles and an emergency supply network comprised of roughly a thousand companies. The compulsory, security and emergency stockpiles hold an amount of imported fuels that would suffice for five months of regular consumption and an amount of grain that would suffice for six months of regular consumption.

The stockpiles, he reminded, are the last resort to guarantee security of supply and the availability of critical goods and raw materials.

The war can nonetheless have an impact on security of supply through a number of factors, according to Känkänen: the sanctions and counter-sanctions, disinformation and influence campaigns, cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, and attempts to disrupt or even damage physical targets.

“Finland’s security environment has changed in a fundamental way. It’s necessary to examine the level of societal preparedness,” he added.

Some have blamed cyberattacks for the recent disruptions in satellite positioning services in central and eastern parts of the country. Laura Ruotsalainen, an associate professor at the University of Helsinki, on Tuesday stated to Helsingin Sanomat that the scope of the disruptions indicates that they were caused by Russia.

The disruptions began last weekend and their cause remains unknown, according to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).

Jari Pöntinen, the director of aviation at Traficom, revealed to Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that an SAS aircraft detected disruptions in signals at the border between Finland and Norway on Wednesday.

“The plane was en route from Kirkkoniemi to Oslo,” he said.

Rauli Paananen, the national cybersecurity director at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, on Thursday reiterated the message sent earlier by several policy-makers: it is unknown whether the disruptions were caused by Russia.

Paananen said the central administration has not come under any unusual attacks or influence campaigns during the war in Ukraine. Finland, he added, has observed, experienced and blocked the same phenomenon of cyberattacks – be it malware, espionage or denial-of-service – that has been targeted in recent years at Ukraine.

“Despite the crisis in Ukraine, the national cybersecurity situation is normal,” he said.

“We can’t say anything about a particular malware, for example, because the techniques are developing constantly. But I’m talking about this specifically as a phenomenon.”

The Finnish government is believed to be in discussions about allocating additional funding for bolstering cyberdefence capabilities. Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) viewed earlier this week that the cybersecurity legislation should be perused for any shortcomings.

“We have to sift through the legislation for holes. If there are holes, we must be able to plug them and do so quickly,” she stated during a question-time debate in the Parliament House on Wednesday.

“This is an issue that also I’m personally deeply concerned about.”

Paananen on Thursday viewed that a re-examination of both material and human resources would be warranted in addition to the measures already introduced to beef up the capabilities. “There’s been fierce competition for experts in this field for some time now, and we have to make sure the resources are sufficient,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT