Annual Conference on Russia ‘Non-linear Warfare: The Russian Challenge’
Tartu, 15th-17th February 2017
16th February 14:30-16:30 Session II: Theorising Non-Linear Warfare
Amb. Alpo Rusi
My presentation consists of two parts.
The first one deals with the period of the Cold War when Finland was a target of the ”quiet war” of the Soviet union.
The second part is about the present non-linear warfare in Finland and in the Baltic Sea Region in particular after Vladimir Putin declared the conflict with the West in his speech in Münich on February 10, 2007.
I am not going to discuss a ”Non-Linear Warfare” fought by any other country than Russia although it is a well know fact that all major countries run covert operations and have a strong intelligence
component as part of their national security strategies1. This is because there is a conflict between the West and Russia and our question here is about to create a defense strategy against the non-linear- warfare by the Russian Federation.
I would like to begin, however, with a note concerning the liberal international system which is in transition. Globalization in terms of free movement of people and economic interdependence has become a common enemy for radical Islam, a number of populist movements in the West as well as a number of authoritarian states like Russia. However, concerning the refugee crisis in Europe, Brexit and even the US presidential elections, there is enough evidence that Russia has been involved by the means of Non-Linear Warfare with the aim to destroy the liberal world order to promote her geopolitical goals.The official 2015 Russian national security strategy document contains the strategic goal “transforming the Russian Federation into a world power” as a key national interest.
The ”Active Measures” Of The KGB And Finland
Josef Stalin wanted to broaden the scope of espionage with ”active measures”. In some ways the term ”active measures” is similar to the CIA term ”covert action”. The main difference was that the SU combined both overt and covert influence operations in its active measures programs. While the KGB carried out the covert form of active measures, including agent of influence operations, forgeries, and even support for terrorist organizations, a variety of active measures are carried out in the overt area.
The NKVD and since 1954 the KGB was instrumental in the enforcement processes in Eastern Europe after the World War II. Cominform (Communist Information Bureau) provided the direction to the international communist fronts and peace fronts. In its third meeting in Hungary 1949, a report ”on Defense of Peace and the Fight against Warmongers” was presented by Mikhail Suslov, member of the politburo of CPSU. In a communist hyperbole he stated that ”For the first time in history an organized peace front has arisen”. He went on to say that, ”peace movement arose as a protest movement of masses against the Marshall plan and the aggressive Western Union and the North- Atlantic alliance”. In Finland the government decided 1947 not to receive the Marshall Aid only for the fear of the Soviet aggression and not at all for ”the peace front of the masses”. This warning concerning the possible Soviet aggression was brought to the government by Hertta Kuusinen, a young communist and daughter of Otto-Ville Kuusinen, the puppet Prime Minister of the Kremlin for Finland during the Winter War.
The role of the Finnish Communist party remained important but not decisive in the Soviet strategy. However, in the espionage operations the CPFi was crucial. The long-time Secretary-General of the CPFi Ville Pessi was recruited by the NKVD 1944 with the code name ”Baranov”. His task was to assist in recruitments of the agents and take care of the money transfers from the CPSU until his death 1980 (1,4-1,5 million dollars every year) as well as convey political orders from Moscow.
Based on the so called Rosenholz archives East-German Stasi recruited 1969-1989 mainly young Finnish communists. During the times of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Stasi had more than 20 confidential contacts or recruited agents in Helsinki.
One of them, ”Fortuna” 1968-76 leaked information from the Socialist International but also Nato documents from Denmark. He held important political posts later as a social democrat until 2005. Another was a communist ”Mantel” who was recruited by Stasi in 1976 and was active until 1989. He collected information about SUPO and CIA and ”maoists”. He was involved in espionage for the KGB between 1973-1976 but handed over to another residentura, as Mitrokhin archive reveal. He was in the parliament 1991-2011 representing the post Communist Leftist Union. ”Kati” was recruited by Stasi electronic counterintelligence in East Germany 1979 and de-activated 1986. Her Stasi file contains about 1000 pages about espionage in West Germany for Stasi and was subject investigations of SUPO already in 2000. ”Kati” was head of the information of the Finnish Central Organization of Labour Unions in 2009 and never prosecuted although her espionage crime outdated so late as 2006, as a state prosecutor has confirmed.
SUPO investigated 40 to 50 Stasi cases and 28-30 KGB cases in the 1990's and early 2000. This information added with information about the KGB penetration vindicates that the KGB had an important network of agents of influences, recruited informant and important sources of information in Finland.
The Western intelligence managed to get information about ”active measures” and the KGB penetrations mainly from the defectors. The U.S. was able to get important information about the KGB operations in Japan 1979 , when the KGB major Stanislav Levchenko stationed in Japan defected and made disclosures about the concept and practices of what the KGB calls ”active measures”. That is a wide range of actions extending from the overt to the deeply clandestine, orchestrated operations to affect the policies, opinions and destinies of other nations. The KGB practices in Japan were to a large extent applied everywhere in the Western countries.
A ”Quiet war” And Finlandization In Perspective
After World War II Finland was left basically alone to resolve its relations with the Soviet Union. Without a heroic military resistance of the armed forces in the Winter War in 1939 based on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as well as in the summer 1944 Finland would have been destroyed without mercy. The Treaty on Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance signed at the request of Stalin in 1948 was to be the basis for a gradual process to incorporate Finland to the Moscow-led world system. On the other hand Finland used the Treaty long time as a buffer against the efforts of the Soviet Union to dissociate Finland from the West. Neutrality was the goal in order to say no to the Soviet demands.
After the invasion of the Warsaw Pact countries, in which the KGB played a major role, to crush the ”Prague Spring” in 1968, the Soviet Union started to increase the number of officers of the KGB in Finland which led to the emerging of finlandization. The Soviet union realized after 1971 that a communist revolution was not possible in Finland and she started to focus on the main players of politics instead of mass movements. At the same time the KGB intensified its ”Quiet war” in Finland. I want to emphasize that the Soviet Union did not manage to destabilize the Finnish society, or prevent the Free Trade Agreement with the EC in 1973. To the contrary, Finland hosted the OSCE Summit in Helsinki 1975 which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The main goals of the Soviet overt operations and ”active measures” were (1) to split the Finnish political parties, (2) object the notion ”neutrality” connected to Finland’s foreign policy,(3) object Finnish membership in Nato, the European Community and even the Council of Europe(Finland joined 1989), (4) fight anti-sovietism and promote pro-Soviet sentiments in the society, and (5) try to get the Finnish armed forces to have joint military exercises with the Red Army5.
Before the collapse of the Soviet union, the political future of Finland was not clear whether the country would become more deeply part of the Soviet sphere of influence, however . In this respect a serious turning point took place in 1972 when the leftist Social Democrats made a deal with President Urho Kekkonen on foreign policy line but also on aging Kekkonen’s re-election in 1974. The KGB played a role in the process both supporting this deal but in particular when Kalevi Sorsa was appointed to the Secretary General of the Social Democrats in June 1969 not without the KGB, as CIA reported and other sources vindicate6. Sorsa advocated the launching of cooperation between the Social Democrats and the Warsaw Pact Communist Parties after his appointment and promoted this idea inside the Socialist International (SI), in particular after he became the chairman of the SI disarmament commission in 1978.
The peace offensive of the Soviet Union became a more important vehicle of influence in the course of the Cold War as an effort to confront NATO. As Mikhail Suslov, pointed out, ”The North-Atlantic alliance of imperialists under the aegis of the U.S.A. represents a threat to mankind”. The aim of the Soviet-led peace movement was to bringing together trade unions, women’s movement, youth, sports, cultural and educational,religious and other organizations as well as scientists, writers and other ”progressive people”,including pro-Soviet parliamentarians and other political and public men and women ”who come forward in defense of peace end against war”. The Socialist International and its Disarmament Commission became one of the key instruments for the Moscow-led peace offensive at the end of the 1970's.
The KGB criticized the Finnish political elite about anti-Soviet sentiments and neutrality. The documents found in the GDR foreign ministry vindicate the KGB officer, listed as a press attache, Albert Akulov ordering the Warsaw Pact intelligence in Helsinki about the need to crush Finnish neutrality in February 1972. Simultaneously in the parliament a number of young leftist parliamentarians introduced a draft proposal to be known as a ”Law of Peace” that would have criminalized criticism of the Soviet union. The legislative effort failed, however, but a doubt exists that the proposal was initiated by the KGB and pushed forward by its Finnish confidential contacts.
One example about an active measure by the KGB to discredit a political opponent, took place in March 1972 and again by the KGB officer Albert Akulov. He was a handler of a Finnish operative ”Samuel” an editor-in-chief of Päivän Sanomat, newspaper of the Leftist social democrats. The KGB had copied letters of MP Georg C. Ehrnrooth of the Swedish Liberal Party with an American congressman. ”Samuel” published these letters a day after his meeting with Akulov as a result of which Ehrnrooth was accused of anti-sovietism and was soon marginalized in Finnish politics. Ehrnrooth was labeled a facist although he was politically liberal. Ehrnrooth never recovered from this KGB-led active measure and he was pushed out from his party. The letters did not contain any damaging information as such but still were used against him because he had an american friend in the republican party. SUPO investigated the leak of the letters and identified the KGB but did not push it forward.
Akulov was declared as persona non grata in 1973 for his efforts to recruit the chauffeur of the Turkish ambassador but permitted to come back in 19849. Akulov’s role is comparable with Gennadi Titov, the KGB station chief,rezident, in Oslo, who was one of the handlers of Arne Treholt, a Norwegian top diplomat, whose usefulness to the KGB extended beyond classical espionage to ”active measures” and political influence operations, far beyond borders of Norway.
A major dispute on neutrality had emerged already in 1971/72 primarily as a result of the Soviet pressure as described above.However, we know today, that the Finns themselves were initiating the giving away of neutrality too. As former under-secretary Jaakko Blomberg, stressed in his article in 2008, that he himself among other young (leftist )foreign policy thinkers in the early 1970s, were of the opinion that by respecting more actively the Treaty commitments with the Soviet Union, Finland was more able to avoid of becoming part of military conflicts than by pursuing a policy of neutrality ”that was not liked by Moscow”. Blomberg added: ”We had to realize the fact that Finland belonged to the sphere of interest of the Soviet Union”. In real terms, Finland’s post-World War foreign policy line that emphasized neutrality was soon history.
The timing with Akulov’s operations about the ”Law of Peace”and discrediting of MP Ehrnrooth was perfect. The architect of Finland’s policy of neutrality in the 1960s Former UN ambassador Max Jakobson left the foreign Ministry 1974 basically for the negative propaganda against him by the KGB and its Finnish operatives. Jakobson said in 2004 that the Finnish political elite became finlandized but the ordinary citizens did not. I share this view with him although believing that he success story theory of our foreign policy in many ways is true too. The Soviet Union did not manage to destabilize the Finnish society, or prevent the Free Trade Agreement with the EC in 1973. In the longer term, however, the relationship of Finland with Russia ruled by Vladimir Putin is still influenced by this period of post-neutrality of Finnish foreign policy ”taking into account the Russian interest before adjusting foreign policy to the ongoing changes”, as Blomberg reasoned in 2011 in his book Vapauden kaipuu (Yearning for Stability). This view either rational and realistic or not, may be one of the explanations why Finland has stayed outside Nato.
Finnish diplomats and politicians rejected accusations of finlandization but based on the various archives, finlandization was to a certain extent a fact . As a term finlandization was in particular a result of the Soviet ”quiet war” was waged by the KGB with overt operations (public propaganda, disinformation) and covert operations (”active measures”). The media exercised self censorship but not fully obeyed the orders of the political elite. The KGB gave for example an order to use The Finnish-Russian Friendship Society to educate the Finns to become ”Soviet minded”.
The first Russian ambassador Juri Derjabin, who had worked in Finland as a diplomat already in the 1970s, said in his interview in 2012 that ”our aim was to resist Finland to join the Western camp”. It is noteworthy that CIA prepared already in 1972 an in-depth analysis about finlandization that is still very accurate description of the term even today. One of the main players in Finnish politics was head of the KGB (here with Sorsa) General Viktor Vladimirov. He operated as Rezident of the KGB 1977-1984 and friendship with Vladimirov was the indication that you are approved by Moscow in Finnish politics for career improvements and receiving support by residentura. The KGB focus on the elections of the president by listing candidates they considered acceptable and not without results.
In some cases the KGB managed to achieve real victories. The secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPSU made a secret decision in december 1980 for the expensive gift to honor Sorsa for his 50th birthday and explained it in the decision by stating that Sorsa is ”a confidential contact”, who ”is beneficial to the CPSU”. The Mitrokhin archive reveals that the KGB residentura was ordered in August 1982 to give Sorsa ”strong political and moral support”. As a consequence, Sorsa was invited to the Kremlin to meet the forthcoming SG of the CPSU. In a meeting between Juri Andropov and Prime Minister Sorsa on 26th of october 1982, Andropov demanded Sorsa to fight anti-sovietism in the media and Finland to buy a Soviet nuclear reactor as well as to build a gas-pipeline to Helsinki in order to avoid unspecific limitations of Finnish exports to the Soviet Union. Sorsa was not able to really encounter Andropov. The information about this meeting is not available in the Finnish foreign ministry but in CIA archives and in the Easte German foreign ministry. Sorsa seems to have been a confidential contact of the KGB, as KGB-defector Oleg Gordievsky insisted already in his interviews in the 1990's.
When the Berlin Wall collapsed, the former head of Stasi residentura in Helsinki Colonel Ingolf Freyer, OibE (Offizier in Besonderen Einsatz) escaped to West Germany early 1990 and gave a list of 20 Finnish Stasi contacts via BND to tSUPO. Freyer had worked as first secretary in Helsinki 1986-89 with the pseudo name Hans Pfailer. The common working method was that the KGB and Stasi heads were holding meetings in Helsinki every second month to coordinate contacts and sharing information but also promoting active measures together. President Mauno Koivisto made the decision in July 1990 that no investigation should be opened . He either broke law or considered the list as a national security threat. The Administrative High Court decided 2010 that the list will be classified until 2050.
It would be naive to insist, however, that no harm was done as a result of ”backchannel diplomacy”. In particular in the field of security policy and domestic politics, the KGB managed to influence the decision making processes until 1991 and created a false image of the Soviet union as a key promoted of world peace. Anti-american sentiments were high in Finland in the 1980s and may have played a role why Finland is the only country in Europe where a clear majority opposes membership in NATO in 2017.Today the worry is whether old KGB and Stasi contacts or agents of influence and informants are activated since Putin’ took over.
”Active Measures” After The Cold War - A Period Of Transition And Beyond
Still today it has not scrutinized enough of how far the Eastern bloc espionage penetrated into the Finnish society and institutions during the cold war. In March- April 1992 the newly established Russian embassy in Helsinki had 54 diplomats listed in the official Diplomatic
Corps book edited by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. Last fall some documents were released for research leading to the revelations that in the Summer 1992 at least 12 Russian diplomats were declared persona non grata for the reason that they had been sacked by other Western countries for espionage activities in the past. One of them was Petr L. Lillerum, a native of Estonia who was kicked out by the Canadian Foreign Ministry in 1978 for espionage activities. I do not know the reason why the government of Finland permitted him to work as an agent with a legal cover in Finland. He was able to stay in Helsinki until 1995 for the urgent request of the Russian ambassador Juri Derjabin. In the official diplomatic list in October 1992, the Russian embassy had only 41 diplomats, some of them well known KGB officers from the 1970s. These diplomats with legal cover but with the KGB or GRU background were also handlers of the Finnish politicians or otherwise important persons for the KGB.
Finland managed to join the EU and Partnership for Peace in the 1990s as a result of the Soviet collapse. Furthermore, Finland hosted the US-Russian summit in March 1997 in Helsinki and promoted peace in Kosovo in 1999.
Our foreign policy was coping with changes successfully and established balance in her relations with neighboring countries. From 2000 onwards -in compliance with the rise of V. Putin- Russia was brought back to be a priority on the agenda of Finnish foreign policy. President Tarja Halonen of the Left wing of the Social Democrats, and former advisor of Sorsa, had been elected with a strong support of the leftist parties and the Labour union - and in particular politically still active Kalevi Sorsa. He argued that Halonen was an alternative for those ones who advocated Nato membership. Halonen stated in one of her first major speeches as President that no finlandization ever existed and foreign policy during the cold war was a success story. As a consequence, no serious effort was done to discuss constructively Nato membership or any re-evaluation of finlandization. On the contrary Halonen criticized the Baltic states for their interest to join Nato, even in Der Spiegel in January 2001. Both Finland and Sweden shared similar kind of naive analysis about Russia and European security until 2014. It was strongly believed that non-alignment strengthened stability in the Baltic Sea region.
The Rise Of An Aggressive Russia After 2007
The Russian military had been arguing that the new military era will be dominated by asymmetrical warfare since 1990s. It took until 2007 before Vladimir Putin declared a conflict with the West in Munich but without policy changes in the non-aligned Baltic Sea states. In February 2013 Valeri Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff of the Federation’s Armed Forces argued that there is a blurring divide between ”war and peace” in the 21st century landscape. He declared a Non-Linear Warfare doctrine to explain what was going on and what was about to come.Yet, in the EU countries time was to focus on debt crisis and emphasize co-operative solutions for conflicts along the paradigm guiding European integration.
Gerasimov define the doctrine as follows.
”The role of non-military means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown,and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political,economic, informational,humanitarian, and other non-military measures- applied in coordination with he protest potential of the population”.
One of the decisive aspect of Non-Linear Warfare is that in order to achieve a favourable strategic position, it is necessary to achieve a information superiority rapidly and to conduct anticipatory operations.16 However, information activities as preparation for open conflict are nothing new. As put by James Sherr:
“One of the aims of the Russians pursuing what they have long called the initial period of war is to incapacitate a state as much as possible before that state is even aware that a conflict has started. In Ukraine, this was done very effectively. So at one dimension of activity, we are dealing with something which is unfamiliar to us, but has been around in Russian thinking since the 1920's.”
Gerasimov’s assertions on information operations contain three aspects. First, with the reference to asymmetrical warfare, it is evident that he views information operations as a force multiplier. Second, with the population as the targeted audience, he considers it as the center of gravity in turning the tide. Third, the concluding defensive comment stems from the contemporary popular theory that the West has been continuously conducting information operations against Russia. One year after Gerasimov’s presentation, Russia’s information operations in Ukraine were crucial to the successful seizure of Crimea and operational expansion into the Donbas region. This effort can be broken down into the following three groups: 1) Russia’s preceding ‘humanitarian’ foreign policy, 2) pro-Russian media within Ukraine, and 3) global pro-Russian media aimed at the West
The Annexation Of Crimea - Information War In Finland And Sweden
The realities of threat perceptions and modern warfare have changed since the 1980s. Vladimir Surkov, advisor to Vladimir Putin, stated during the days of the annexation of Crimea as follows:
“It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all.”
The operation in Crimea was so confusing that it took long time for the Western leaders to realize the facts which gave to Russia a major edge in the information war. In Sweden former Moscow ambassador Sven Hirdman explained already in April that the EuroMaidan protests resulted from the provocations of the right sector of Ukraine and accused the EU for its lack of understanding of Russian history. Hirdman was not alone with his views. Today the overt operations by the Russian government and its security services and propaganda organs are executed very much in the same way as in the 1980's. Pro-Russian politicians, think tanks, lobbyists,former diplomats and radio stations try to speak for Russia and replace serious politics with propaganda and disinformation. The Russian state-led companies and banks use economic interdependence as a tool to promote the Kremlin geopolitical goals. I would like to refer to Gazprom, Rosatom and sports events as well as money allocated to sports (KHL). The Russian soft power has its legitimate role being a tool of Russian public diplomacy and prestige promoting, but one has to discern these efforts from corruption, manipulation and disinformation.
Yet, the intention not to criticize Russia has been rooted in the political left and pro-Russian anti- globalization populist movements. In the 1980s the Soviet propaganda promoted the idea that the U.S. and the USSR are both superpowers. The U.S. administration understood that this idea was one of the active measures of the Soviet union to promote strategic deception worldwide. The two superpowers idea morally equates the two countries and their systems efficiently. In the course of the 1980s in Europe anti-American sentiments gained ground with the influence of peace movements, because ”The Soviet Union is defense oriented and threatens no one; it does not seek strategic superiority nor does it want first strike capability”, as Joseph D. Douglass assessed in 1981.19 This perception may still prevail in the minds of the politicians who started their careers in the 1970s and 1980s and increasingly in the minds of the populist anti-globalization leaders.
In Finland, but also in a number of EU member states there existed confusion about a process that related to the annexation of Crimea. The Georgian War in 2008 was considered in Finland as a ”individual case” and the government resisted sanctions in the EU. In 2014 the official line of the Finnish government was the same as the EU but several politicians from different parties advocated either directly or in a more hidden way the ”Russian” arguments that Crimea is a historic part of Russia and the citizens of Crimea wanted to join Russian federation. Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, a leftist Social Democrat, resisted in the government the EU sanctions, but wanted his position to remain secret. In the summer 2016 he expressed as a member of the opposition, the view that in the Baltic Sea Region the increase of military destabilization is not only the result of Russian politics but to a large extent caused by EU, USA and NATO. The representatives of the pro-Russian Alexander Institute of Russian studies at Helsinki University, were reluctant to criticize Russia at all but de facto accused the Western countries for the crisis in Ukraine.It was difficult to get a consensual Finnish view concerning the annexation of Crimea in 2014. To what extent this was a result of history but a more advanced information war and active measures of Putin’s Russia, is still difficult to elaborate. However, an expert of Russian affairs Jukka Mallinen stated in the Spring 2014 that there are agents of influence in Finland who are working for the FSB and SVR.
Non-Linear Warfare In The Baltic Sea Region - What Next?
Russia’s military thinking is offensive in nature, and geared towards expansion, not defence. The “Lagoda 2012” manoeuvre rehearsed military actions against the Baltics and Finland, in a twenty-first century repetition of the 1939 Soviet invasion of the Baltics and Finland (the Winter War).The Baltic- Russian and Finnish-Russian borders were taken as the hypothetical frontline, leaving little room for imagination about the ultimate aims of Russian military planning. Further exercises carried out in spring 2015 repeated similar scenarios, but with a stronger emphasis on nuclear deterrence. In the “Zapad 2013” manoeuvre, the script was even more loaded with significance. “Illegal armed groups” or “terrorists” from the Baltic states would take control of parts of Belarus, and the Russian army again would have to react rapidly with an offensive operation, cutting off the Baltics from the rest of Europe and then “removing the terrorist threat from the area”.
Finally Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and the risky nature of Russian military operations and exercises in and around the Baltic region in 2014 and 2015, sparked acute unease in Poland and the Baltic countries, but in Finland and Sweden too. Both Baltic and Nordic countries have experienced multiple cyber intrusions from unknown sources. Although in most cases the source goes undetermined, many security experts believe Russia is behind such attacks. Former economic advisor of Putin, Andrey llarionov warned at the end of March 2014 in Svenska Dagbladet that “Putin claims to have ownership” of “significant parts of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and Finland.” In his view, Putin may want to create a buffer between Russia and Europe. At least The West has underestimated the significance of Russia’s military reform that has been realized in Sweden. ”Who is controlling Gotland, is controlling the Baltic Sea”, as Alexander I stated in 1808.
For Russia, contest with the West in the information domain, the ongoing information warfare (informatsionnaya voyna) is “a regular feature of the country’s news and current affairs coverage. ”The Western approach to Cyber defense needs to be developed from a technical response to technical threats to Russian information war in the broad sense because so far it is not always sufficient for a wider and more holistic approach adopted by Russia.
I agree with Edward Lucas who speaks about the Nordic Five the Baltic states and Poland as a geopolitically unified area sharing a common concern about a revisionist and rearming Russia24. The forthcoming military exercise Zapad 2017 is a source of growing concern. "We see that risks are increasing, and we are worried about the upcoming Zapad 2017 exercise, which will deploy a very large and aggressive force [on our borders] that will very demonstrably be preparing for a war with the West," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on February 9 after meeting with the Estonian and Latvian presidents in Riga. Any military crisis in any of the Baltic countries would become a crisis in the Baltic Sea Region as a whole. All countries in the region are targets of Russian non-linear warfare and the Baltic states for the Russian speaking minorities (”compatriots”) in particular25. Quite recently it was revealed that after the collapse of the Soviet union, there was talk in the Boris Jeltsin administration to establish of a semi-independent Russian buffer state ”Narva” between Russian federation and Estonia.
However, Russia’s approach to the manipulation of media and information, but also in weaponization of refugee crisis and economic interdependence, are increasingly on a country-by-country basis, creating separate strategies for different regions and countries, while taking advantage of local infighting and weaknesses26. For Finland, Russia may have used refugees to push a Rosatom deal with the Finnish company Fennovoima forward in the winter 2016. Juri Andropov weaponized Finnish-Soviet economic relations for political purposes in 1982 in a similar way. Nord Stream 2 is a case in point in this respect. For Sweden a number of active measures are used to discredit key politicians and in Estonia we have witnessed even kidnappings. The whole region is under Russia-led cyberwar and various kinds of destabilization operations, non-linear wafare, and now in particular during the months before Zapad 2017. Special attention should be drawn also to the pro-Russian proxy groups in support of its foreign policy objectives.
Pro-Russian proxy groups have been particularly active - as we know for the ongoing military or frozen conflicts -in Ukraine, Montenegro, Hungary, Georgia, Serbia and Moldova – countries that have declared their intention to integrate with the West. The author of this paper would like to consider -as many scholars i.e. Mark Galeotti or Karen Dawisha - the pro-Kremlin loyalists, consultants, a number of former Moscow ambassadors, business people and politicians still the key targets of Russian non-linear warfare but not undermining the role of the Russia information industry (RT,Sputnik) in efforts to influence the citizens of the EU countries. When writing this paper, the case of Michael T. Flynn emerged. Confidential talks with the Kremlin- and in particular ”backchannel diplomacy”- can also backfire for a number of reasons, as Flynn now has to realize.
Is Russia’s Aim To Create ”Frozen Conflicts” In The Baltic Sea Region?
Russia is seeking to expand its sphere of influence, destabilize countries and weaken the Nato and EU alliance. As a consequence, the imminent threat is not a military invasion of Russia, however, but Non-Linear Warfare with the aim of creating”frozen conflicts” in the Baltic Sea Region. British Minister of defense, Michael Fallon accused recently Russia of using cyber attacks to "disrupt critical infrastructure and disable democratic machinery.” Russia is "weaponizing misinformation" to create a "post-truth age" in a sustained campaign of destabilization against Nato and the West, he warned. Fallon’s analysis is in compliance with the events taken place in the Baltic Sea Region.
In its 2017 threat assessment released last week the Norwegian Intelligence Service (Etterretningstjenesten - NIS) warned that Russia will continue to carry out extensive intelligence activities on Norwegian targets."The threats in the digital world against political, military and economic targets are increasing”. Russia had prepared for the military campaign in Ukraine proper since at least 2008 by creating or connecting pro-Russian nationalist circles and fifth- column organisations, and by infiltrating local intelligence, military, economic, and administrative structures.
The same model but in a more sophisticated way is to be applied for the Baltic Sea Region states. The Russian propaganda network is sophisticated, utilizing a network of officials, journalists, sympathetic commentators, and Internet trolls to deliver its messages. It is also built on the lack of transparency, where the public is unaware that various spokespeople, in fact, work for the Kremlin. the goal of the pro-Russian disinformation campaign is to shift public opinion against the West and its own institutions, the goal in line with Russia’s “Divide and Conquer“ strategy that the Kremlin pursues all around the Europe but first of all in post-Soviet space and increasingly during the coming months in the Baltic Sea region.
1) Finland has had her special problems and successes with the Soviet union during the cold war. The ”Quiet war” of the KGB influenced Finland causing finlandization and has not been analyzed openly enough. The rejection of Nato membership may be one of the results of the ”success story”. Another may be the reluctance to discuss the Russian threat realistically causing misperceptions and may have influenced the Swedish mistake to disarm and dismantle conscript military service.
2) Russia’s swift occupation and annexation of Crimea, and subsequent war against Ukraine, it is still accurate to observe that Russia prepares for war in an entirely different way than the West.As one of the examples, instead of cyberspace, Russia refers to “information space,” and includes in this space both computer and human information processing, in effect the cognitive domain.
3) Non-Linear Warfare as a combination of covert operations and cyberattacks as well as propaganda methods against countries in the Baltic Sea Region will intensify with the strategy ”divide et impera”. In the worst case scenario Russia aims at creating ”frozen conflicts” with the pro-Russian political forces and active measures including more aggressive hacker operations. As a consequence, Zapad 2017 could launch a more intensified Non-Linear Warfare in the Baltic Sea Region combined with a stronger permanent Russia military presence in Belorussia (semi-occupation).
4) The defense strategy and structures against Russian Non-Linear Warfare is emerging (Cyber Centers in the Baltic states and in Helsinki) and should be developed within the co-operative structures between the EU and Nato along the lines approved at Warsaw Nato Summit.
5) Finland and Sweden are at the crossroads whether to join Nato together or separately. The alternative is to continue non-alignment that has not influenced the maintenance of stability as expected but would cause additional but temporary increase of confrontational atmosphere in the region. The Russia Non-linear Warfare is targeting these two countries on all fronts to split political elites and parties in order to keep Finland and Sweden de facto buffer states for Russia against the West.The networks of the Cold War are re-activated accordingly with lucrative business deals and positions in the state-led companies like as advisors.
"The more you understand the world, the higher your chance of shaping it".
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Valtiotieteen tohtori, suurlähettiläs, tasavallan presidentin entinen neuvonantaja, professori ja kirjailija.
Kirjoituksia saa lainata. Lähde on mainittava.