Pentagon and NATO add Finland to their outposts encircling Russia
A press release by the armed forces of Finland was recently posted on the website of U.S. Army Europe and Africa which related that the Commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, General Christopher G. Cavoli, had visited Finland from January 10-12 to “familiarise himself with Army Arctic training in the Jaeger Brigade in Sodankylä and observed a live-fire exercise at the Rovajärvi training area.” Cavoli was hosted by Lieutenant General Petri Hulkko, Commander of the Finnish Army. Sodankylä is in Lapland, immediately north of Russia.
The press release added: “Finland and U.S. Army Europe have carried out cooperation in the form of exercise activities, for example. In several years, units of U.S. Army Europe have participated in the Army’s mechanised exercise Arrow in Pohjankangas, Niinisalo.”
Finland and fellow NATO partner Sweden were in charge of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan until ISAF ended in 2014, then have continued with NATO’s Resolute Support Mission since. Finnish troops engaged in combat operations, losing two soldiers.
In terms of territorial issues that the world considered settled under provisions of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, but which like so many others have been or may be reopened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is that of territory ceded by Finland to the Soviet Union after the Winter War of 1940: Salla and Kuusamo and four islands in the Gulf of Finland.
One of the main architects of redrawing the borders of Eastern Europe after 1991 is Martti Ahtisaari, who as president of Finland in 1998 said: “Finland’s official position is that it does not have territorial demands on Russia. However, if Russia wants to discuss returning the ceded areas, Finland is ready for that.”
It’s certain that the Ahtisaaris of Finland and their allies in Washington and NATO are prepared to press claims for just such a return. And are preparing for it militarily.