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Finnish report
by Euro Reporter
2014-03-21 10:02:03
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Russia to open electronic warfare base on Finland's border

Russia's two Arctic bases in Alakurtti, currently being re-established, will house a newly created Northern Fleet signals intelligence unit, according to state media. Quoting sources close to Russian Naval Command on 13 March, the reports said the bases will be staffed with 3,000 electronic warfare (EW) specialists.

Alakurtti, on the Kola Peninsular and inside the Arctic Circle, was a part of Finland until 1941 and is 50 km from the Finnish border, 150 km from the White Sea, and 300 km from the Arctic Ocean.

The station's role is stated as tracking military, maritime, and air movements and activities, supporting developments in the Arctic and the Far North, and searching for threats from the West.


Cut spending and restructure

A team of experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who have been visiting Finland handed over their report on the state of the nation’s economy. It includes a lower growth forecast for Finland amid uncertainty over finland_400Russia and the future of the nation’s forest products and IT sectors. The report is based on discussions that IMF experts held with Finnish officials and representatives of labour market groups, private financial institutions, think-tanks and others.

After a press conference held at the Bank of Finland on Friday, delegation head Helge Berger, a German advisor in the IMF's European Department, told Yle that the downgrade “reflects a number of considerations. One is just the new data. Last year ended in kind of a dismal way. And another factor is that we fear that the repercussions of the Eastern European events on Finland will also contribute to the low growth,” he added. Last year, Finland's economy contracted by 1.4 percent after taking a turn for the worse in the last quarter of the year. Private consumption fell and investment weakened. Now the fund projects that Finnish GDP will nudge up by 3-tenths of a percent this year by and 1.1 percent next year. Those are down from its earlier estimates of 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent.

The Washington-based lender called on the Finnish government to cut spending further and push ahead with structural reforms to make the economy more competitive. “A more comprehensive structural reform agenda will be necessary to strengthen medium-term growth, while the pace and structure of fiscal consolidation should be designed to protect the fragile recovery,” it said. Finland is one of just three eurozone members to retain an AAA credit rating, along with Germany and Luxembourg. 


Finland readies Air Force in light Of Russian takeover of Crimea

The Finnish Air Force is increasing surveillance of its airspace in light of escalating tensions between Russia and neighbouring NATO countries over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, according to a Finnish Air Force commander. “Military planes in nearby areas east and south of Finland are flying in different ways and in different directions than usual, which is why the Karelian Air Command in Rissala is more alert than usual,” Col. Ossi Sivén, an air force unit commander, told the Finnish daily, Yle.fi Wednesday. Karelia is a region of eastern Finland on the Russian border. There is also a Russian Republic of Karelia, on the other side of the border, which forms part of the Russian Federation, mostly on land taken by the Soviet Union from Finland in the war of 1939-1940. 

Finland, with a long Russian border on its east and just north of the ex-Soviet Baltic States, is adjusting its “readiness” in the face of new potential threats and tensions between Russia and the NATO allies. Traditionally neutral Finland is not a NATO member. “This means that in a certain direction the radar is being used slightly more than usual and also that the fighter jets that are on duty may operate in somewhat different places and for longer periods of time,” Sivén said.

On Monday, tensions escalated as Russia announced plans to move 24 Sukhoi Su-27 advanced fighters to Belarus by the end of 2014. Belarus is another ex-Soviet state and Russian ally, and borders NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as well as Ukraine. “The Baltic Sea is part of our sphere of interest and there has been interesting traffic over it,” Sivén said. “Nothing very surprising has happened near our borders, but as more military jets are being deployed, then one should be prepared for the fact that they can be used in a variety of ways.” Sivén stressed that Russia’s action in Crimea is not aimed at Finland and therefore the public should not worry. On the other hand, he said the defence of Finland’s airspace is critical so that "if something unusual happens then we won’t be asleep at the switch.”


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