Russia lives in its own reality

An editorial in Ilta-Sanomat addressed the current foreign policy issues involving Russia and stated that Russia lives in its own reality, despite the economic sanctions. Russian Ambassador Pavel Kuznetsov spoke at the Paasikivi Society in Finland on December 11 and maintained that Russia had no involvement in the GPS jamming at the NATO exercise in Lapland.

Kuznetsov accused the European Union, NATO and the US together and separately. According to him, the West is guilty of scrapping international agreements, the escalation of the situation in Ukraine and NATO’s enlargement projects at the Russian border. Kuznetsov accused Ukraine of « provocation » at the Kerch Strait.

Finland itself was not mentioned in the speech, but a familiar message emerged between the lines: Russia does not view favourably Finland’s possible NATO membership. The Finland-Russia relations have endured i.a. Finland’s participation in the EU’s sanctions against Russia. Applying for NATO membership could be the threshold after which Russia would re-evaluate its stance towards Finland.

Finland has a good dialogue with Russia, but it is still difficult to agree with Kuznetsov’s view that relations between the countries could return to the pre-Crimean crisis level. The confrontation between Russia and the West seems to be cemented in its current state with no relief in sight; especially given that the US Congress is awaiting new economic sanctions against Russia. Decisions on this will be made after the turn of the year.

According to Ilkka, The EU countries have condemned Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait, but the issue of the tightening of sanctions would not be raised during the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels. The assessment of Ukraine’s situation was set to be a major topic and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin attended the meeting.

France may set the pace for the march

According to Aamulehti, the major European parties are looking ahead to the European elections. While the Parliament’s biggest groups EPP, S&D and ECR have already appointed Spitzenkandidats, ALDE is taking a different road and waiting until February to appoint a group of Spitzenkandidats.

ALDE is gaining an ally in French President Emmanuel Macron’s Republique en Marche party. This makes Macron a potential kingmaker in ALDE. MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE) said that this is normal cooperation between two parties and ALDE will be an opposing force to the strongly conservative EPP.

An exceptional and expensive military exercise to be organized in Finland next year

According to Ilta-Sanomat, the Bold Quest military exercise has been puzzling the Finnish Parliament’s Defence Committee. Mika Kari, vice chairman of the Defensc Committee, would like to know more about the exercise, which is to be held next year in Finland, and will be attended by dozens of countries and the Nato, according to preliminary information. Mr Kari has been wondering about the fact that Finland is the host country, but the United States is the leader of the exercise

The subject of Russia came up in many ways in Minister Soini’s Washington visit

Yle has reported on the visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini to Washington. He discussed current global political issues with the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Many of the issues discussed were related to Russia.

Due to the crisis in Ukraine, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for almost five years behind, but they are still no changes in sight by the EU or the United States. Mr Soini noted that the fact that the Minsk agreement has not been implemented means that sanctions still remain in place.

GPS jamming in Finland

According to an editorial in Ilkka, the details of the case of GPS jamming during NATO exercise in Finland have not been opened, but the Ministry for Foreign Afffairs said that Russia was involved. The latter denied involvement and demanded concrete proofs, which is unlikely to come, as both Norway and Finland would reveal to Russia the accuracy of their own technology.

According to the editorial, the matter has shifted to the diplomatic level, but details of the debate between the State Secretary and the Ambassador of Russia are not reaching the public. However, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has informed that air safety is of interest to both parties. The Ministry demands more information and responsible action from Russia, but it is unknown what has been Russia’s response to Finland’s request.

Juha Sipilä and Jean-Claude Juncker talked about external border control

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met in Helsinki last week, reported Verkkouutiset. The two held a broad debate on the development of the European Union and its future challenges.

The leaders also discussed Finland’s priorities for the Commission’s forthcoming five-year program and Finland’s forthcoming EU Presidency. The issues of the EU’s response to migration and international trade and the development of the EU’s internal market were raised too.

« Europe must have abilities »

Ilta-Sanomat has reported that Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö had spoken in favour of shared European defence for years, and now he has received support from both France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German Chancellor Merkel spoke at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday and she said the European Union should establish a joint army. French President Macron and European Commission President Juncker have also spoken on behalf of a European army.

GPS jamming is a weapon

An editorial in Ilta-Sanomat has stated that Finnish top politicians have reacted strongly to the allegations that Russia had been jamming the GPS signal in his Finland’s northern airspace during the recent Nato military exercise Trident Juncture 2018.

President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Foreign Minister Timo Soini, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Matti Vanhanen, and Chairman of the Defence Committee Ilkka Kanerva condemned the incident. Mr Soini also promised to issue a statement to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Kremlin has disputed the allegations. The editorial states that even if no « smoking gun » could be found, Finland should object to Russia’s violation of its airspace.