Finland writes to 900,000 military reservists amid heightened tensions with Russia

Finnish Defence Forces deny 'crisis situation' warning is related to security situation

Jon Stone
Friday 22 May 2015 08:55
Finnish conscripts giving their military oath after basic training
Finnish conscripts giving their military oath after basic training

The Finnish military has sent letters to the country’s 900,000 reservists and given them information about what their responsibilities would be in a “crisis situation”.

Finland has an 833 mile long border with Russia, which also makes the bulk of the European Union’s border with the state.

The move comes amid escalated air exercises between Nato and Russian warplanes with reports that the two blocs are routinely testing each other’s borders in the Baltic and English channel.

A television announcement was also broadcast on Finnish channels reminding reservists that “conscription is the cornerstone of Finland’s defence capability”.

Finland’s defence minister, Carl Haglund of the liberal minority language Swedish People’s Party, denied the communications campaign was related to the security situation with Russia.

“The aim of this isn’t to give out sort of message at all [to Russia],” he said, according to Finnish public broadcaster YLE.

A spokesperson for the Finnish Defence Forces told the news channel the campaign had been two years in the making and that is had nothing to do with the security situation in the country.

“The reservist letter is associated with our intention to develop communications with our reservists, and not the prevailing security situation,” a spokesperson told the channel.

Finland is not a member of Nato.

The country has a small professional peacetime army but can call on a large reserve of conscripts in the event of a mobilization.

According to Andrej Illarionov, the Vladimir Putin's chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005, the Russian president believes that parts of Finland should rightfully be under Russian control. The Russian government itself has not repeated such claims.

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