Finland shoring up Åland defenses against 'little green men' (1)
Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö has disclosed that Finland is planning to test its defenses of Åland Islands from “little green men.”
Many defense experts have speculated that should a military conflict take place in the Baltic states or on the Baltic Sea, Russia would attempt to occupy Finnish territory in Åland Islands and Sweden's Gotland island.
“Åland has received too little attention in Finland. The security situation in the Baltic Sea region has changed and therefore there is a reason to check how well the Åland is defended,” said Niinistö according to Finnish media outlets Lännen Media and Yle.
The minister confirmed that the Finnish Defense Forces will prepare themselves for the “little green men” invasion, a reference to masked unmarked soldiers in green army uniforms wielding Russian military weapons and equipment at the beginning of Ukraine war when soldiers occupied and blockaded the Simferopol International Airport, most military bases in Crimea and the parliament in Simferopol. Retired Russian Admiral Igor Kasatonov later revealed that the “little green men“ belonged to the Spetsnaz, the special forces units of Russia.
The Swedish-speaking Åland is politically neutral and entirely demilitarized area, and 29,000 of its residents are exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defense Forces. However, Russia, which ruled the Åland Islands during the tsarist regime prior to Finland's independence in 1917, has never recognized the Finland's right to the 300 islets.
In January, the Italian journalist Luigi Offeddu wrote that if Russia captures just two tiny islands of Åland, it would control the whole airspace of the Baltic region, covering one-twelfth of continental Europe.
Furthermore, the Center for European Policy Analysis said in a recent study that during an exercise in March, Russian troops rehearsed the capture of the Åland islands from Finland, seize Gotland island from Sweden and Bornholm island from Denmark.
“We would like to hope for the protection of international law – and Finland always sticks to it – but in a crisis situation one cannot always be sure for 100 percent. That's how it is, unfortunately, and we have to take this into account in our military planning,“ Niinistö said, adding that Åland Islands in the wrong hands is like “holding a gun to Sweden's head”, a reference to the islands proximity to Swedish coast, just 50 kilometers away.
A local Åland politician Barbro Sundback added to Finnish media that “Russia would want to use the area to protect its interests.”
Niinistö has been the Minister of Defense of Finland since May 2015, representing the True Finns, a nationalist party.