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  • Posted June 7, 2012 by

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    Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia threatens Finland


    Nikolay Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, caused a diplomatic scandal by a presentation he gave on Tuesday at an event organized by Finland's National Defense Courses Association at the University of Helsinki.

    "The co-operation between Finland and NATO threatens Russia's security. Finland should not be desirous of NATO membership, rather it should preferably have tighter military cooperation with Russia," said Makarov.

    Makarov accused Finland of supporting attempts by Georgian "revanchists" to retake South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Further, Makarov showed a map of Europe, where Finland and the Baltic states where assigned to the area where Russia upholds "security".

    He also questioned Finland's right to hold military exercises on its own territory. "Who are they aimed against?" he asked. Makarov also criticized co-operation between Finland and Scandinavian countries in the field of defense.
    Finnish politicians immediately replied Makarov's viewpoints. Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja doubts that Makarov represents Russia's standpoint. "Every sovereign country trains its defense forces on their own ground. That's normal preparation for readiness", Tuomioja guides Makarov. Tuomioja defines Makarov's speech standing for the world of the cold war. "General Makarov isn't the only general who still lives in the cold war and Russia isn't the only country where you find those guys", Tuomioja stated and told that he will take Makarov's statements up for discussions with the Russian political leaders.

    According to Defense Minister Stefan Wallin, Finland makes its evaluations and solutions regarding NATO independently, based upon own national security interests. Jussi Niinistö, chairman of the Parliament's defense committee, admits that Finland's ties to NATO will strengthen in future. If the military budget cuts continue, Finland might join NATO as a member, he states. Niinistö also thinks that behind this statement is a thougher Russian policy since Putin returned to president. "By this Russia apparently wants to show it is a regional super power".

    According to many political analysts, Makarov's statements in this issue are approved by the Kremlin; a Russian general does not express only private opinions in statements made abroad. With such a neighbor we really need NATO, seems to be a common opinion among Finns.

    By Mikael Storsjö,
    Helsinki, Finland

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