Finland · Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Finnish Defence Minister: “Western countries have taken the bait” over Russia’s Zapad exercises


Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / AFP

Finland’s Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö has it absolutely correct, Russia is successfully playing the West with their Information Warfare. 

…or are they?  

As a retired military intelligence officer, it was my job to pose all the different options for a threat, usually an enemy. This is exactly what is being done for Russia, assuming it is using the exercise as a cover, as it has historically done. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best. There is an added facet of information warfare which the West is not accustomed to encountering and is being addressed on many different levels by many different entities across Europe. 

The good news is that Europe is at least properly focusing on an upcoming opportunity for Russia to attack their countries, their homes, their culture, and their lifestyles.  The really good news is Europe recognizes that Russian information warfare cannot be ignored. It must be acknowledged and countered, on multiple levels with multiple efforts at each level.

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11.9.2017 11:58

Finland’s military is taking part in Sweden’s Aurora 2017 military exercises, which simulate an attack on the Nordic country and the response of forces from nine countries. The exercises coincide with the Zapad 2017 war games Russia and Belarus are holding in Eastern Europe and the Baltic–and which Finland’s defence Minister regards as a successful information warfare measure by Russia.

Some 300 Finnish military personnel are taking part in Sweden’s biggest military exercises in 23 years, simulating the response to an attack on the country. Forces from nine countries are involved, and all but two are Nato members.

The exercises are timed to coincide with the Zapad 2017 exercises conducted by Russia and Belarus, which have been covered extensively in the western media.

Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö told Yle on Monday that he regarded the Russian exercises as a propaganda exercise—and one that had already been partly successful thanks to extensive coverage in the media.

Information warfare

“It’s definitely also information warfare,” said Niinistö. “Western countries have taken the bait completely, they’ve plugged the exercises so much.”

The corresponding Aurora war games run from 11-29 September around September, Gothenburg and Gotland as well as in the south of the Baltic Sea.

According to the Defence Forces, the exercises are part of normal Finnish-Swedish military co-operation, with the goal of improving international military co-operation and Finns’ operational capabilities in a multinational military force.

In all, some 19,000 soldiers and other officials are involved in the exercises, with troops from Lithuania, Norway, Poland, France, Denmark, Estonia and the United States taking part.

Sources: Yle
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