Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Lappeenranta and Imatra border crossing 19. April 2024. Photo: Valtioneuvoston kanslia

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

Russia ‘moves nuclear missile launchers to Finland border’

Russia deploying nuclear-capable missile systems to the Finnish border was covered in an article by inews.co.uk on April 24.

The article describes the move as a strategic maneuver amidst tensions with the West, particularly in light of Russia's recent warnings regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

The Iskander-M missiles, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, were moved to Republic of Karelia, near the Finnish border. This move is perceived as a response amidst tensions with NATO, particularly as Sweden also recently joined the alliance.

However, while this move may appear provocative, some experts argue that it is more of a symbolic gesture than a strategic game-changer. The presence of Iskander missiles in neighboring regions like Kaliningrad has been a longstanding reality, and moving them to Karelia might not significantly alter the strategic balance. Additionally, the limited range of these missiles compared to other nuclear-capable rockets means that their impact on NATO’s overall military posture is relatively limited.

“It doesn’t change the balance of power at all — the missile is relatively short-ranged compared to other nuclear-capable rockets.” Dr Kristian Gustafson, deputy director of Brunel University’s Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies told inews.

“If anything, it might “slightly” change the operational level calculus in NATO’s northern region,” he added.

The deployment of missiles highlights the complex dynamics of the Russia-NATO relationship and the ongoing efforts by both sides to assert their influence and protect their interests in Eastern Europe.

Original story was published by inews.co.uk on 24.04.2024 and can be found here.

Von der Leyen promises Finland EU help to counter migrants from Russia

Finland’s concerns about potential migrant flows from Russia and the European Union’s pledge to assist Finland in securing its eastern border was covered in an article by Reuters on April 19. The article delves into the EU's response, which underscores the need to balance border security with international obligations.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised Finland €230 million in support, along with operational assistance from the EU’s Frontex border agency. Finland is considering emergency legislation to empower its border guards to block migrants and return them to Russia without processing asylum applications.

During a visit to the Finnish-Russian border, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen referenced a previous “hybrid attack” initiated by Belarus in November 2021 against Latvia, Poland, and Lithuania.

“We all know how Putin and his allies instrumentalise migrants to test our defences and try to destabilise us. Now, Putin is focusing on Finland,” Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.

“We are preparing our own legislation but we also need EU measures,” Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said.

Original story was published by Reuters on 19.04.2024 and can be found here.

The EU needs to get its trade mojo back, say Sweden and Finland

Sweden and Finland’s concerns about the European Union’s trade policy becoming more defensive and restrictive was covered in an article by Politico on April 18. The article highlights the tension within the EU regarding its trade policy direction and the differing priorities among member states.

Sweden and Finland lament the decline in the EU’s proactive approach to trade negotiations, citing a lack of progress in securing trade deals compared to previous years. They argue that protectionist tendencies, particularly from countries like France, have hindered the EU’s ability to pursue comprehensive trade agreements.

One major concern raised by the Nordic nations is the tendency to link trade agreements with environmental and other policy objectives. They argue that such conditions, particularly related to issues like carbon taxes and deforestation regulations, have complicated negotiations and deterred potential trade partners. This approach is seen as limiting the EU’s capacity to effectively negotiate trade deals.

In response to these challenges, Sweden and Finland advocate for a return to a more traditional approach to trade policy, emphasizing positive incentives and market-driven solutions. They suggest that the EU should prioritize trade agreements that focus solely on economic benefits.

Moreover, the two countries propose strengthening ties with the Asia-Pacific region, including engagement with trade blocs like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

Original story was published by Politico on 18.04.2024 and can be found here.

Athens turns orange, Helsinki goes white as Europe’s weather springs a surprise

The unusual April snowfall in Finland was covered in an article by CNN on April 24. The article describes two contrasting weather phenomena in Europe: a yellow-orange haze of dust from the Sahara desert blanketing parts of Greece and a white April in Finland covered with snowfall.

Finland experienced a rare late April snowfall, with some areas receiving more than 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) of snow. This unusual weather disrupted public transport, causing delays and cancellations of bus, metro, and flight services. Road traffic accidents were reported in the southwest of the country, although there were no serious injuries. The heavy snowfall also led to challenges in clearing snow from power lines and other infrastructure.

Additionally, Helsinki Airport experienced freezing rain overnight, which quickly turned to ice upon hitting the ground. This necessitated increased de-icing measures for runways and aircraft wings, adding to the operational challenges posed by the unexpected weather conditions.

In Greece, the dust haze resulted from weather conditions that favored the movement of dust from Africa, particularly affecting the southern part of the country. Videos and images shared online showed the striking yellow-orange fog enveloping Athens, prompting health warnings due to limited visibility and potential breathing risks.

Original story was published by CNN on 24.04.2024 and can be found here.

British army helicopters fly to Finland in ‘largest NATO exercise since Cold War’

A significant NATO exercise involving the deployment of nine British Army Apache attack helicopters to Finland was covered in an article by LBC on April 24. The article highlights this helicopter deployment as the “largest overseas NATO exercise since the Cold War”, conducted by the UK outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, with about 20,000 British personnel participating.

These helicopters will engage in strike missions in support of Finnish army training and later join exercises in Estonia alongside Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters and RAF Chinook support helicopters.

Led by the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British airborne forces are training with counterparts from Estonia, Poland, and the United States. The focus is on practicing air assault operations to seize a foothold against armed opposition, with Chinooks lifting troops and equipment while Wildcats provide surveillance support and Apaches execute strike missions.

“The significance of what we are doing is matched by the demanding nature of the deployment – we’re deploying helicopters and everything we need to operate them across Europe, to build relationships with our allies, understand their capabilities and procedures, to then plan and carry out missions together,” Lieutenant Colonel Dave Lambert, 4 Regiment Army Air Corps Battlegroup Commander told LBC.

Original story was published by LBC on 24.04.2024 and can be found here.

Why Finland’s Stubb wants EU to be ‘cool, calm and collected’ on Russia

Finland’s President Alexander Stubb’s interview, urging European leaders to adopt a “cool, calm, and collected” approach towards potential Russian threats, was covered in an article by Financial Times on April 11. The interview revolves around Stubb’s stance of less talk and more action on Russia, stressing the need for readiness rather than dwelling on pessimistic scenarios.

Stubb highlights Finland's historical preparedness for potential Russian attacks and calls for greater collaboration among EU and NATO allies in defense procurement and planning.

“When it comes to procurement of defence material, we need to start pooling. When it comes to financing, we need to start pooling. When it comes to planning and operations, we need to start pooling,” Stubb said. “In NATO, we’re already doing that. But in Europe, I think we’re lagging a little bit behind.”

Stubb clarifies that this doesn’t necessarily involve mutual debt pooling for defense investment but rather emphasizes administrative planning and private sector involvement. “I am not making here a call for defence bonds,” Stubb said.

Original story was published by Financial Times on 24.04.2024 and can be found here.

HT

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