Russia treating Finland as an unfriendly country
While the threat of intelligence and influencing operations against critical infrastructure has increased, a crippling effect on infrastructure operations in Finland remains unlikely in the immediate future. Relations between Finland and Russia have significantly deteriorated, with Russia prepared to take measures against Finland if it deems this necessary. The Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo) published its national security overview on 12 October.
Relations between Finland and Russia have shifted significantly due to the invasion of Ukraine, sanctions and NATO membership. Russia is currently treating Finland as an unfriendly country. This is evident in such aspects as negative coverage of Finland in the Russian media, and in the decision to close the consulate general in St. Petersburg.
“Russia currently remains focused on the war in Ukraine and on easing international isolation, but this does not mean that the threat of Russian intelligence and influencing in Finland has disappeared. The accession of Finland to NATO, the continuation of the war in Ukraine, the deepening confrontation between Western countries and Russia, and increasing sanctions may strengthen Russian countermeasures against Finland”, says Supo Director Antti Pelttari.
The main goals of Russian influencing are to undermine the unity of NATO and the European Union, and to reduce the support of Western countries for Ukraine. Russia is monitoring the progress of Finnish NATO membership and watching how Finland behaves in relation to Russia. Russia remains ready to take measures against Finland if it deems this necessary. Russia will determine its own measures in response to the actions of Finland. NATO membership nevertheless provides protection against the most aggressiveforms of influencing.
A Supo assessment last year suggested that although the threat of intelligence and influencing operations targeting critical infrastructure has increased, a crippling effect on such operations in Finland remains unlikely in the immediate future. Marine infrastructure remains more vulnerable than land-based installations. While this assessment remains valid, Finland is well prepared to face such threats.
“Russian influencing operations against Finland are mainly about creating deterrence at the moment. The energy sector is one example of an effective target in this respect, even if no real crippling impact is sought. Potential measures that Russia may take against Finland include information influencing and undermining bilateral links, such as by withdrawing from remaining treaties. Denial of service attacks can also give an impression that infrastructure and services are vulnerable, even without causing any real damage”, explains Supo specialist researcher Suvi Alvari.
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Correction at 13th of October. The title and text has been corrected due to mistakes in translation.