A rookie soldies carrying a rifle. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

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

German arms maker takes Finland to market court over rifle choice

This article about German firearm manufacturer Heckler & Koch lodging a complaint with the Finnish Market Court regarding Finland's direct arms procurement from local producer Sako Ltd. was published in Reuters on August 8. The article gives details of the complaint by Heckler & Koch which alleges that the Finnish defence forces violated Finnish and EU competition regulations by making a decade-long agreement, in collaboration with Sweden, to purchase assault rifles and handguns from Sako Ltd, owned by Italy’s Beretta.

Heckler & Koch contends that this direct procurement restricts the invitation of tenders for handguns until 2053, allowing acquisitions only from Sako. Both Finland and Sweden seek to update their army’s standard weaponry, with Finland’s RK 62 and RK 95 assault rifles primarily from Sako and Sweden’s AK 4 and AK 5s, the latter based on a Heckler & Koch battle rifle.
Finland’s precise number of handguns planned for acquisition remains undisclosed in the agreement. The country currently possesses hundreds of thousands of handguns stored for its wartime military force of 280,000 personnel. Finland’s defense forces have justified their arms procurement by citing exceptions to competition rules based on national security concerns, both at the Finnish and EU levels.

“The procurement has been carried out as a direct procurement, so that the necessary damage repair capability, maintenance and production know-how is available under all conditions within a certain response time,” the ministry told Reuters.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, both Finland and Sweden have amplified their defense collaboration, as they joined the NATO military alliance.

Original story was published by Reuters on 08.08.2023 and can be found here.

Finland sees fourfold spike in ransomware attacks since joining NATO, senior cyber official says

The frequency of ransomware attacks targeting Finland quadrupling since the country initiated its NATO accession process in 2023 was covered in an article by The Record on August 3. The article explores how the increase in attacks is believed to have political motivations, coinciding with Finland's NATO association.

Given Vladimir Putin’s warnings against NATO establishing military infrastructure in Finland post-alliance membership, officials suspect a connection. In response to cyber espionage allegations, the Finnish government expelled nine diplomats from the Russian embassy in June. In October 2022, Finland’s Security Intelligence Service (SUPO) predicted a probable escalation in Russia-linked cyberespionage activities throughout the winter.

Sauli Pahlman, Deputy Director General of Finland's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), expressed in an interview with Recorded Future News that while a direct cause-and-effect relationship couldn't be confirmed, he believed the notable increase in cyberattack incidents was closely connected to geopolitical factors. Pahlman acknowledged the complexity of the situation, cautioning against assuming a clear causal link between the rise in cases and geopolitical developments.

The expulsion of suspected Russian intelligence agents across Europe led the Chief of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO) to caution last year that Russia might resort to cyber methods for espionage, compensating for challenges affecting its traditional human intelligence operations. The increasing reliance on cyber activities was seen as a response to limitations on their conventional intelligence activities.

Original story was published by The Record on 03.08.2023 and can be found here.

US approves sale of Israeli missile defense system to Finland

U.S. government has granting approval for the sale of Israel’s David’s Sling missile defense system to Finland was covered in an article by European Jewish Press on August 3. The article provides details of the anticipated procurement agreement, valued at approximately $345 million, which is set to be officially signed soon.

Developed jointly by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defensive Systems and U.S. defense company Raytheon, David's Sling is engineered to intercept a range of threats, including ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and enemy aircraft.

“The approval granted by the U.S. government today for the sale of the David’s Sling, a co-developed system by Israel and the United States, marks a significant step towards the realization of a historic agreement between Israel and Finland,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Finland revealed its plan to procure the David’s Sling system on April 5, just hours after officially joining NATO as its 31st member state. The proposed agreement, presented to the U.S. government, outlines that Rafael, Raytheon, and Finnish defense industries will collaborate to create a tailored version of David’s Sling for Finland.

Original story was published by EJ Press on 03.08.2023 and can be found here.

Finland’s Neoliberal and Far-Right Alliance Is a Sign of Things to Come in Europe

This opinion piece about Finland's new government, calling it a blend of neoliberal and far-right ideologies, was published in Jacobin on August 17. The article delves into the ideologies and agenda of the new government and political parties around it.

The article highlights the recent scandal involving Vilhelm Junnila, the nationalist Finns Party's minister of economic affairs, highlighted far-right affiliations and led to his resignation. However the article argues that this is not an isolated incident within the party; many members have faced convictions for ethnic agitation.

The article also points out that while the Finns Party plays a supporting role, the dominant agenda is driven by neoliberalism and austerity, reflecting a trend seen across Europe. The Left's response must address both racism and austerity, recognizing the compatibility between these ideologies.

The government’s program includes anti-labor measures, restrictive means-testing for benefits, and significant health and welfare cuts. The government’s alliances challenge conventional political divisions, while the Finnish Greens and Centre Party grapple with a careful balance in their opposition.

The author Tatu Ahponen is a member of the Left Alliance and former deputy member of the party council in Finland.

Original story was published by Jacobin on 17.08.2023 and can be found here.

Virus-carrying tropical mosquitos found in Finland as climate heats

New mosquito species Culex modestus, found in Finland, was covered in an article by The Guardian on  August 4. The article talks about the 44th species identified in Finland amid heating of climate.

This tropical mosquito is known for carrying the West Nile virus, previously more common in central Africa. What’s surprising is that this species has reached as far as Kent and Essex in the UK, well to the north and colder than its usual habitat.

The UK Health Security Agency has been aware of the possibility of a West Nile virus outbreak since 2012 when large populations of this mosquito were found in southeastern England’s marshes.

Original story was published by The Guardian on 04.08.2023 and can be found here.

Bii, Mandago to refund parents Sh300m in Finland study fiasco

This article about Kenyan parents impacted by the Finland education scam slated to receive over Sh300 million (1910800.41 €)  in refunds was published in The Star on August 9. The article gives details about the agreement reached between Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii and Senator Jackson Mandago to facilitate the reimbursement.

Following discussions with affected parents and students, it was decided that refunds were necessary due to program complications and waning interest from those who had made payments. Both leaders asked for a week to devise a plan for the refunds. The affected parents narrated their challenges during the meeting, some having sold property or used retirement benefits to fund their children’s education, only to be deceived.

However, Jonathan Bii has requested for some time to make the payments. “Please give us time so that we go and discuss and come up with the way forward on the refunds as you have demanded. We cannot refund immediately as you are demanding because of the complications involved”, said Bii.

Bii and Mandago clarified that a significant portion of the owed money had been used to cover fees for other students who were already studying in Finland and Canada but had not settled their dues. The source of funds for the refunds remained uncertain.

Original story was published by The Star on 09.08.2023 and can be found here.