Minister Niinistö: Finland Needs to Rethink its Defense of Åland Islands

Finnish Army helicopter, August 7, 2010From Estonian Public Broadcasting:  Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö has disclosed that Finland is planning to test its defenses of Åland Islands from “little green men.”

Many defense experts have speculated that should a military conflict take place in the Baltic states or on the Baltic Sea, Russia would attempt to occupy Finnish territory in Åland Islands and Sweden’s Gotland island.

“Åland has received too little attention in Finland. The security situation in the Baltic Sea region has changed and therefore there is a reason to check how well the Åland is defended,” said Niinistö according to Finnish media outlets Lännen Media and Yle.

The minister confirmed that the Finnish Defense Forces will prepare themselves for the “little green men” invasion…

“We would like to hope for the protection of international law – and Finland always sticks to it – but in a crisis situation one cannot always be sure for 100 percent. That’s how it is, unfortunately, and we have to take this into account in our military planning,” Niinistö said, adding that Åland Islands in the wrong hands is like “holding a gun to Sweden’s head”, a reference to the islands proximity to Swedish coast, just 50 kilometers away.

From YLE:  Finland’s Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö says Finland should reappraise its defence policy in light of increased military operations in the Baltic Sea.

“Finland must be prepared for any potential situations and defend all of its territory. We have to consider how we would provide official assistance to the Ålands, if such a situation should arise,” said Niinistö.

“Several scenarios have been considered. War can start without an official announcement,” revealed Niinistö, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“The Russian Consulate monitors the demilitarisation of the Åland Islands, but it has not accepted its neutral status,” he says….

“I don’t exclude the possibility that Sweden and Finland would share a joint vision of matters associated with the Åland Islands in the future,” says Niinistö.

Image: Finnish Army helicopter, August 7, 2010 (photo: David Smith)