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  • Author: Matti Pesu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This Briefing Paper looks into the fundamentals of the Baltic Sea security landscape in the early 2020s. It argues that three interconnected security dynamics shape the present, ‘post-2014’ security environment in Northeastern Europe. That is to say, Russia’s assertive behaviour in the region and in Europe more broadly, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures in the area, and Finland’s and Sweden’s closer integration into the Western defence network all affect hard se- curity dynamics in the Baltic Sea region. These three dynamics underlie the tense regional stability that emerged after a period of alarmism and turbulence in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s ac- tions in Ukraine. Fundamentally, the stability is the product of the interplay between the three dynamics. In other words, NATO’s reassurance and deterrence measures accompanied by Finland’s and Sweden’s in- tegration into the Western security and defence system act as a counterweight to Russia’s actions in the region, creating a balance of power holding Russia’s ambitions in check. Investigating the sources of regional balance is rele- vant for multiple reasons. The region remains a poten- tial hotspot between Russia and the West and, thus, it merits close and continuous attention. Moreover, the word ‘stability’ frequently features in foreign policy parlance in Northern Europe, particularly in Finland and Sweden. Given this rhetorical proclivity, attention needs to be paid to the factors that actually constitute stability and the state of hard security in the Baltic Sea area. The paper consists of three analytical parts. First, it provides a brief historical overview of the twists and turns in the regional security landscape from the early post-Cold War era to today. The second part introduces the three dynamics in detail, followed by an analysis of how they are interconnected. The paper concludes by contemplating how regional stability could best be preserved in the 2020s.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Baltic Sea
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden has a history that far predates the most recent ‘reignition’ of 2014, and is now deeper than at any time in the past. In 2020, Sweden and Finland can contribute to each other’s defence in an integrated and planned fashion; but any plans are best viewed as being supplementary to national preparations. While the security interests of Finland and Sweden have overlapped historically, cooperation has often been limited due to a combination of domestic drivers and foreign pressures, as well as the nature of the international security system. Yet these same variables are currently permitting even deeper cooperation. Four future paths of cooperation are identifiable, with the most likely being a continuation of bilateral deepening, with added trilateral cooperation with Norway and the United States.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Sweden, Scandinavia
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation has taken significant steps. Currently, the two countries engage in operative planning, which constitutes a significant part of their new cooperation agenda. Although interoperability between the Finnish and Swedish armed forces is crucial for the bilateral defence relationship, the countries should be ‘interoperable’ at the strategic level as well. Neither Finland’s and Sweden’s strategic cultures nor their decision-making systems or legislation are entirely similar. However, military non-alignment, similar threat perceptions and a shared assessment of their security environment facilitate their cooperation. In view of the future, questions remain about the two countries’ readiness to enter mutual defence commitments. There is also a need to ensure that their basic messages concerning the bilateral defence relationship are aligned. Over the longer term, the idea that one’s neighbour is worth defending should be entrenched in the strategic cultures of both states. This requires active nurturing of the already close relations between their national security communities.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Sweden, Scandinavia
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US president has considerable power over the country’s foreign policy. The different worldviews espoused by President Trump and presidential candidate Biden are likely to have an impact on how the most significant foreign policy challenges of the coming years are addressed.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections, Party System
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Tuomas Iso-Markku, Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This FIIA Finnish Foreign Policy Paper looks at the evolution of Finnish foreign and security policy during the country’s 25 years as an EU member. The paper aims to trace how – and with what kind of consequences – Finnish foreign and security policy has interacted with EU foreign policy during the membership period. More specifically, the study examines the interlinkage between Finnish and EU foreign policy in relation to three different topics: the policy towards and relations with Russia, security and defence, and Finland’s broadening international agenda. The paper argues that the Finnish policy vis-à-vis the three domains is marked by different patterns of continuity and change. However, the rise of a protective agenda in the Finnish policy towards Russia, Finland’s increased boldness in advancing the EU’s security and defence dimension, and the recent emphasis on the Union’s role as a bulwark against geo-economic threats all indicate that the EU’s role in enhancing Finnish security has become a top priority. Indeed, Finland is currently endeavouring to unlock the EU’s potential as a security community.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Finland, Scandinavia
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Speculation is rife that China could take advantage of the potential confusion during the US presidential election and invade Taiwan. Although China has never relinquished the military option for resolving the Taiwan issue, there are sound reasons to downplay the risk of a military confrontation at the present time.
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Elections, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, North America
  • Author: Henri Vanhanen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The government reports on foreign and security policy have become a well-established and recognized practice in which the Government of Finland issues a report generally once during the parliamentary term. The reports can be regarded as comprehensive and strategic documents, whose purpose is to signal the strategic directions of Finland’s present and future policy for both domestic and foreign readers. Regardless of the government reports’ institutionalized role in Finnish foreign and security policy practices, they are not without problems. The main issue with the current report process is linked to the quickly changing operational environment. Thus, a more frequent process such as an annual announcement on foreign and security policy to support the government reports should be considered. It is relevant to ask whether the current tradition of producing reports is the most effective way to outline or signal Finland’s overall foreign and security policy. In order to address the issues of the reporting process, alternative methods to support and evaluate Finland’s foreign and security policy should be considered.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Scandinavia
  • Author: Matti Pesu, Ville Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The transatlantic relationship is undergoing a period of turmoil. President Trump’s unorthodox policies have exacerbated historical sources of mistrust between the U.S. and its European allies. This working paper approaches the transatlantic bond from the perspective of asymmetric trust, a perennial factor in transatlantic security and defence affairs. For Europe, the U.S. remains the ultimate guarantor of security, rendering allies dependent upon Washington’s decisions and goodwill. From the American perspective, the European allies are not crucial in ensuring U.S. national security, but remain a pool of reliable partners, whom Washington can periodically draw upon to pursue its global ambitions. This paper evaluates how mistrust has featured within the asymmetric alliance setting, and places the current friction between the U.S. and Europe within this broader context. Acknowledging the sources of mistrust and managing mutual suspicions are crucial for the sustainability of the alliance in an increasingly competitive international arena.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America, Atlantic Ocean
  • Author: Harri Mikkola
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The end of the Cold War meant that the Arctic region lost most of its geostrategic relevance. However, due to growing great power competition, the Arctic is back on the geopolitical map. Hard security dynamics in the region are defined by two key elements: the importance of conventional long-range missiles and nuclear weapons for Russia, and the importance of the North Atlantic sea line of communication for European defence. Russia has revitalized its Cold War-era bastion strategy, which aims to ensure the survival of its strategic ballistic missile submarines. In a crisis scenario, this strategy could pose serious challenges to the Nordic countries as well. Five Arctic states are members of NATO and the Alliance’s collective defence is operational in the Arctic. Even if the Arctic is still not a focus area for NATO, the North Atlantic maritime domain is increasingly back on the agenda. Given the divergent strategic interests and lack of common ground between Russia and other Arctic states on grand strategic issues, the Arctic will not be losing its geostrategic importance anytime soon.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Maritime
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Canada, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Arctic