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Armed Forces Chief Says Finland Is Ready To Fight Russia If Attacked

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Finland has been preparing for a Russian attack for decades and would resist fiercely if one were to happen, the armed forces chief says.

The Scandinavian country has built up a considerable arsenal. But beyond the military hardware, General Timo Kivinen said, a crucial factor is that Finns are motivated to fight.

“The main line of defense is between the ears, as the war in Ukraine is proving at the moment,” General Kivinen said in an interview.

Armed Forces Chief Says Finland Is Ready To Fight Russia If Attacked

Finland fought two wars in the 1940s against its eastern neighbor, with which it shares a 1,300-kilometer border.

Once a non-aligned country, it is now asking to join NATO’s military alliance over concerns that Russia could invade as Ukraine did on Feb. 24.

Since World War II, Helsinki has maintained high military preparedness.

“We have systematically developed our military defenses precisely for this kind of warfare that is being waged there (in Ukraine), with a massive use of firepower, armored troops, and air force,” said General Kivinen.

“Ukraine was a tough bite to chew (for Russia) and Finland.”

About 100,000 Finns were killed during the two wars Finland fought against the Soviet Union, losing a tenth of its territory.

The nation of 5.5 million has a wartime troop strength of approximately 280,000, with 870,000 trained as reservists.

It did not abolish military service for men, as many other Western countries did after the end of the Cold War.

It has also built one of Europe’s strongest artillery and supplied cruise missiles with a range of up to 370 kilometers.

It spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense, a level higher than many NATO countries.

It orders four new warships and 64 F-35 fighter jets from US defense giant Lockheed Martin.

It plans to order up to 2,000 drones, its high-altitude anti-aircraft equipment, and build barriers on the border with Russia.

About 82 percent of respondents in a May 18 poll by the Ministry of Defense said they would be willing to participate in national defense if Finland were attacked.

Still, General Kivinen welcomed Finland’s decision to apply to join NATO.

Finland and the Scandinavian country of Sweden are in talks with Turkey to discuss Turkey’s opposition to their applications.

Ankara is outraged at what it says; Helsinki and Stockholm support Kurdish militants and an arms embargo against Turkey.

NATO membership would allow Finland to increase its early warning capacity by being part of the alliance’s joint airspace control, General Kivinen said.

He said that Finland would also benefit from the deterrence of being part of an alliance in which an attack on one member is an attack on all its members.

Nevertheless, he said, “the main responsibility for Finnish defense will still be borne by Finland”.

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