Intelligence and influence operations are targeting Finland

The most active perpetrators of intelligence operations targeting Finland and its people are Russia and China. Russian intelligence is primarily interested in the security policy of Western countries, especially with respect to the Ukrainian situation and support for Ukraine, and in ways of evading sanctions. The Chinese intelligence services focus on such aspects as foreign and security policymaking and cutting-edge technology.

White car driving.

Russia shifts the focus of information gathering to the cyber environment

The tense security situation in Europe caused by the Russian war affects the targeting of Russian intelligence operations. Current topics of interest are the concrete consequences of Finnish NATO membership, material support for Ukraine, and ways of evading sanctions via Finland.

Operating conditions for Russia’s human intelligence work in Finland have deteriorated since the war against Ukraine, and due to expulsions of diplomats. It is highly likely that Russia will have to shift the focus of its information collection to the cyber environment.

The principal objective of Russian influence operations is to undermine the unity of NATO and the European Union, and to reduce the support of Western countries for Ukraine. The accession of Finland to NATO, the continuation of the Russian war, the deepening confrontation between Western countries and Russia, and growing sanctions will probably strengthen Russian countermeasures against Finland. It is nevertheless NATO membership that will provide protection against the most violent forms of influencing.

Russian influence operations distort real information 

Russia uses online platforms strategically for targeting information influencing at Western countries. It modifies the tone, details or framing of real news and information to give the content a positive spin in favour of Russia. Messaging is formulated in line with the communications culture of each media form, and cannot always be easily identified as propaganda. Russia also uses denial-of-service attacks as an instrument of information influencing.

Export restrictions imposed on China and internal conditions in China increase its need for intelligence

China is targeting human intelligence and cyber espionage operations at Finland. Chinese cyber espionage seeks information on the foreign policy views of other states and on technological R&D. Controls governing the export of semiconductors and their manufacturing technology imposed on China by the USA, for example, increase the needs of China to gather information through cyber espionage.

China has stressed that all of its people have a duty to ensure national security. Coupled with changes in Chinese legislation, this is likely to further hamper the work of many foreigners living in China, including diplomats, journalists and researchers, and will probably increase China’s surveillance of people of Chinese descent living in Finland.



Probability terms used in the report 

Highly improbable 5 % 
Improbable 20 % 
Probable 75 % 
Highly probable 90 % 

Time assessments used in the report

In the near future 0–6 months 
Short term 6 months–2 years 
Medium term 2–5 years 
Long term over 5 years