Russia could disrupt Finland’s maritime trade, but could not mount a land invasion into the Nordic nation, according to a former top Finish intelligence official.
“The garrisons next to the Finnish border have been emptied,” said Major General Pekka Toveri, the former intelligence chief of the Finnish General Staff. “They don’t have anything.”
Toveri made his comments during a wide ranging interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Georgia Service. He spoke in the wake of Finland making a formal application to join the NATO alliance.
Russia is not likely to invade Finland by land, Toveri said.
“The thing is that 90 percent of that border is wilderness, it’s just forest. No road, no network, no anything,” he said. “Attacking with land forces across the border is mostly impossible. They don’t have any land force [to do that]; 80 percent of their combat-capable land forces are in Ukraine.”
Moscow has moved its ground forces completely away from the border area, he noted.
“The garrisons next to the Finnish border have been emptied. They don’t have anything,” he said.
“Of course, they could look to air attacks over that long border, but our air defenses and air force are in pretty good condition, and we’ve seen the quality of the Russian Air Force in Ukraine,” he added. “It’s really not too impressive. So it would be a very big risk for Russia to try something like that.”
Finland is most vulnerable along the sea routes, he said, “because Finland is logistically an island and almost 90 percent of our trade goes on Western sea lines of communications.
“And if you go down south, that is where the major Baltic Sea forces of Russia are, at Kaliningrad, close to Poland.”
But, he added, NATO maintains “an overwhelming maritime force in the Baltic Sea.”
The decision to admit Finland into NATO now sits with the member countries’ parliaments.