A Leopard 2R. Photo: The Finnish Army

Finland in the world press

Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:

Finland Built Special Vehicles For Breaching Enemy Defenses—And Gave Them To Ukraine’s Weirdest Brigade

This article about Leopard 2R breaching vehicles that Finland recently donated to Ukraine was published in Forbes on May 31.

The article speculates on the potential role of the 47th Assault Brigade, of Ukraine particularly the Leopard 2Rs, in Ukraine's anticipated 2023 counteroffensive against Russian forces.

The Finnish Leopard 2R, a modified version of the Leopard 2A4 tank, has its turret removed and is equipped with full-width mine plows manufactured by Pearson in the UK. With its 1,500 horsepower, the Leopard 2R can safely detonate mines and clear a path through minefields and fortifications.

However, Finland had issues with the Leopard 2R’s performance on rocky terrain, rendering it less effective for their purposes. Consequently, Finland decided to donate all six breaching vehicles to Ukraine, hoping that the Ukrainian soil would be more suitable for their operation.

The 47th Assault Brigade appears to have deployed to the forests near Svatove, around 80 miles east of Kharkiv, where one of their M-55S tanks was reportedly destroyed by Russian troops. If the Ukrainian general staff orders the brigade to breach Russian defenses, the Leopard 2Rs could play a crucial role in leading the way.

Original story was published by Forbes on 31.05.2023 and can be found here.

In Joining NATO Sweden & Finland Discard Human Security For Militarism

This opinion piece on Finland joining North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its implication in Nordic region was published in The Citizen on May 31. The article speculated whether Finland and Sweden have abandoned their policies of active neutrality and chosen a path of militarism by aligning themselves with NATO.

The article suggests that this decision undermines the security and stability of the Nordic region, as it brings the United States, NATO and Russia into closer confrontation. The author raises concerns about the loss of sovereignty, the potential for conflict, and the increased military expenditure associated with NATO membership.

“By joining NATO, the two different neutrals, Sweden and Finland, have now abandoned all that served them well for so long. Old-time members, Denmark and Norway, have changed to accept foreign troops and pre-positioning of weapons on their territory. Iceland remains an unarmed member providing the Keflavik Base. These policy changes imply that the Baltic Sea is no longer a neutral buffer zone. It’s now a NATO sea,” the article reads.

The article highlights that these countries joining NATO could pose challenges to peace, human security, and the pursuit of alternative policy concepts. It looks at  NATO as a militaristic organization and argues that Sweden and Finland will be forced to align with the Western powers in future global shifts, neglecting potential opportunities for engagement with non-Western actors.

The author Jan Oberg, PhD, is the Director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF, in Sweden.

Original story was published by The Citizen on 31.05.2023 and can be found here.

Shining rainbow rings around the sun photographed in Finland. What caused them?

This article about stunning images of concentric rainbow-colored rings around the sun, known as pollen coronas, captured in Finland was published in Live Science on June 1. Photographer Mikko Peussa captured the eye-catching images on May 30 near his home in Turku. The multicolored rings are caused by sunlight scattering off pollen in the air.

The star-like sparkles that appear in and around the shining rings are individual pollen grains, which can vary in size. The pollen in the images came from pine trees, and the pollen grains have air sacs that help them float in the wind, creating the diffraction pattern and elliptical shape of the rings.

The article points out that pollen coronas are only visible when pollen concentrations are high and the sun or full moon is partially obscured. Pine pollen has also been found to create large sea swirls on the surface of the Baltic Sea. Increasing pollen concentrations and seasons are linked to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Original story was published by Live Science on 01.06.2023 and can be found here.

Deputy governor, parents to visit Finland in study abroad scandal

Uasin Gishu County Deputy Governor John Barorat’s upcoming visit to Finland over the recent row on Kenyan students facing deportation risks in the country was covered in an article in Daily Nation on June 1.  The students, enrolled in Finnish universities, have faced difficulties while studying abroad, including the threat of deportation due to unpaid study fees. The deputy governor is expected to visit Finland in September.

The article states that the county government has not fully disclosed the details of the study deal before sending the students to Finland.

“It takes over Sh5 million to complete the course and this should have been disclosed to the parents at the outset. We have now told the parents,” Barorat said.

The article highlights on a tragic incident involving a nursing student who took his own life in Finland in April. The student cited frustrations stemming from a controversial study deal as the reason for his actions. The county government had facilitated the airlifting of 202 students to Finland for their studies, which has been a subject of controversy.

The county government has been implicated in the situation, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is currently conducting a forensic audit of the program to investigate the matter further.

Original story was published by Daily Nation on 01.06.2023 and can be found here.

Finland feels safer now it is part of NATO, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto tells Arab News

Finland’s ministry of foreign affairs, Pekka Haavisto’s statement on Finland feeling safer after joining NATO was covered in an article in Arab News on June 2. Haavisto also acknowledged that while Finland is not currently threatened by Russia, the war in Ukraine highlighted the potential for an escalation of conflict in Europe.

Finland and Sweden both applied for NATO membership in July 2022, but their accessions were initially stalled due to demands from Turkey. Finland eventually gained NATO membership on April 4, 2023, while Sweden’s bid is still pending. 

“We decided that together with Sweden, we will apply for NATO membership because of our own security,” Haavisto said.

“We will not threaten anyone. We are not currently threatened. But, of course, when you saw a war in Europe, you could always imagine what an escalation of war could mean in Europe.” Haavisto added.

Haavisto expressed hope that Sweden would be approved as a NATO member prior to the NATO summit in July.

The article also touches on Haavisto’s views on various foreign policy issues, including the conflict in Sudan and Finland’s commitment to sustainable development. Additionally, it mentions Finland’s efforts to become a global environmental leader and its hosting of the World Circular Economy Forum 2023.

Original story was published by Arab News on 02.06.2023 and can be found here.