Col. Paul Clayton of the British Armed Forces opened the eyes of Finns in an interview published by Lännen Media over the weekend.

Clayton praised Finland as a strong ally in the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) project. Clayton used the word ally, not partner. In addition to the UK and Finland, JEF co-operation includes the NATO countries the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as non-military Sweden.

According to Clayton, Finland forms a strong northern front: Russia will therefore not be able to threaten the Baltic countries with the site.

But then the truth Clayton told. If Finland were to face an armed conflict with Russia, fast-moving JEF troops would not automatically be sent to Finland, Clayton told Lännen Media.

- NATO is looking at the best place to use our troops. It may be Finland, but it may also be Central Europe. The crisis would hardly be in one place, but across the front.

In other words, JEF is primarily NATO's tool, and NATO looks at where its spearhead is once struck.


NATO looks at the best place to use our troops. It may be Finland, but it may also be Central Europe. The crisis would hardly be in one place, but across the front.

Clayton is, of course, right. If Finland were to be hit by a military attack, the attack would most likely be part of a widespread European conflict. Finland is considered a military strength. It is quite possible that Finland would then be asked for military help elsewhere, and we would not receive it here, at least not immediately.

By the same logic, NATO does not necessarily send troops to defend Finland. Finland is not a NATO member but a partner. NATO's primary task is to take care of the defense of its member countries. Only joining gives you the benefits of membership. However, there is no widespread support for this in Finland.

Unlike NATO, JEF is a loose partnership, not a federation. Decisions on the use of Finnish troops for non-national defense tasks are always in their own hands. The JEF countries do not have a common headquarters or a common military force, but all of its forces are national.

Finland has kept its own defense in good order and at the same time built a security network around international defense cooperation. This safety net is sometimes called spawning. JEF is precisely this kind of cooperation between like-minded partners. It is "allied cooperation in times of crisis," as Colonel Clayton put it.

In addition to JEF, Finland is engaged in deepening defense cooperation with Sweden and is participating in EI2, a European intervention led by France. Finland has also signed a bilateral agreement on defense cooperation with the United States. All of these cooperation projects are a message across the border that Finland is positioned westward and relies on it militarily. Team compatibility and the ability to work together are constantly being practiced.

However, security in Western Europe is strongly based on NATO. Finland has a special partnership with NATO and a host country agreement that enables the transfer of troops and material within Finland.

Close Partnership: US Army Abrams Armored Wagon at Arrow18 in Niinisalo, Finland in May 2018.

Photo: Aleksi Jalava

Colonel Clayton commands Britain's so-called trap departments in the Baltics and Poland. Together with the units sent by their host countries and other NATO allies, they form the northeast wing of the Defense League. In Estonia, the British Armored Battlegroup is stationed at Tapa Military Base along with an Estonian infantry brigade.

Ansalanka, tripwire in English, refers to the fact that the battle groups pushed ahead of NATO actually have little real power, they are symbolic units. The presence of NATO allies in the Baltic States is a threshold. If the attacker steps over, he stumbles for at least a moment. A trap wire triggers and alarms auxiliary forces. Finland, on its own, will prevent its territory from being used to attack this northeast wing.

It is good that Finland has built an extensive network of defense cooperation. The more extensive it is, the more emergency numbers we have and the better the chances of getting help. However, that is not obvious. In addition, the arrangements are reciprocal and military assistance may also be required. In addition to bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation, this diverse fabric also includes the Treaty on European Union, which allows member states to assist one another in a military crisis.

Last autumn, the Ministry of Defense launched the preparation of a new government statement on defense. The Defense Statement will be submitted to Parliament after the Foreign and Security Policy Report, approximately during 2021. It will be interesting to see how these documents shape Finland's position.

With this passage, the talk of Finland's military non-alignment is beginning to sound like a liturgy that has no real content.