Date: 17 December 2019
Finnish counterintelligence: Russia is the biggest threat
The annual SUPO report states that Russia is the biggest threat. The activity of China and the threat posed by the jihadists (“lone wolves”) are of limited nature and relate only to restricted areas. In the case of China, the risk regards industrial espionage and the interest in critical infrastructure. Finnish counterintelligence expects that espionage activities of other states will be maintained at a high level or will even increase.
On December 5, 2019, SUPO published the annual report assessing the security situation in Finland. The document describes four security areas: the activity of foreign intelligence services aimed at the state and citizens, espionage in cyberspace, terrorist threats, hybrid threats. The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (SUPO) underlines that foreign services have recently been focused on the Finnish presidency in the EU and critical infrastructure. In the long run, foreign intelligence services are mainly interested in the ongoing discussion about foreign and security policies, relations with NATO and the EU, energy policy, Finnish activities in the Arctic area and security situation in the Baltic area. Attention was paid to threats related to the possible takeover of elements of the Finnish critical infrastructure by entities connected with foreign states. Therefore, according to SUPO, it is necessary to in advance ensure the safety of projects such as the development of the 5G network. When it comes to the latter, it is necessary to remember that Chinese Huawei is competing with e.g. Finnish Nokia which is widely supported by the USA (in 2014 part of the company was taken over by Microsoft).
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SUPO openly states that Russian and Chinese intelligence services are the most active. Dozens of secret services employees of these states are supposed to operate in Finland. – The diplomatic cover is typical, but this is not the only method. There are intelligence employees who permanently live in Finland, but there are also temporal visitors – the director of SUPO Antti Pelttari said during the presentation of the report. Russian and Chinese intelligence services are focused on searching for methods of influence within the Finnish society with a destabilising potential, predicting strategic decisions of Finland, relations of Helsinki with the EU, NATO and particular countries, Finnish critical infrastructure, systems and means of cybersecurity, industrial espionage of hi-tech companies. SUPO also mentions hybrid threats, mainly influence operations aimed at politicians and people taking economic actions. Several unnamed countries which are conducting operations against their citizens living in Finland are mentioned in the report as well. Probably, this regards mainly Turkey and Iran.
Several months ago, SUPO has received powers which made this institution a complete service responsible for counterintelligence and security. In summer, the parliament adopted laws regulating the issues regarding activities and the status of the civil and military secret services. Currently, SUPO can, for instance, carry out intelligence activities outside Finland.
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