Russia’s increasing presence to militarize, exploit energy resource potential, and secure a northern sea Route in the Arctic poses questions about western nation’s readiness in the northern security race. A Wall Street Journal editorial outlines the potential valuable resources in the Arctic as well as Russia’s goals, followed by their efforts to demobilize Finland’s Arctic initiatives.
“That is a tough nut to crack, to know exactly what the Russians want,” newly appointed Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini says. “But I’m sure they know. Because they are masters of chess, and if something is on the loose they will take it”—a variation on the old proverb that “a Cossack will take whatever is not fixed to the ground.”
“In the Arctic area they have twofold objectives,” says a senior official at the Finnish Defense Ministry. “To secure the Northern Sea Route and [exploit] the energy-resources potential. And they are increasing their ability to surveil that part of the world, to refurbish their abilities for the air force and the Northern Fleet. They are exercising their ability to move their airborne troops from the central part of Russia to the north.”
Russian warplanes have violated Finnish airspace as recently as August, and pro-Kremlin media have also launched a systematic propaganda campaign against Finland. “They are writing things about us and our defense forces that are not from this world,” says the senior official, such as the yarn that the Finnish government removes children from ethnic-Russian Finnish families for adoption by gay couples in the U.S.
Another Finnish Defense Ministry official says that he finds it hard to view as spontaneous “one of their pro-Putin demonstrations with crowds shouting ‘Thank you, Putin! You gave us Crimea. Now give us Poland and Finland.’ ”