How Finland Is Preparing For A Russian Invasion

In September, Russia will conduct its Zapad 2017 military exercise, the largest since the end of the Cold War, and one which is already sending shivers down the spine of NATO, which not only has "serious doubts Moscow is revealing the true extent of its military exercises", but because the last time such a major training exercise took place was just before the Crimea "annexation." One country, however, isn't taking chances: Russia's northern neighbor Finland, which as the WSJ reports, is "going underground."

In something straight out of an H.G. Wells novel, Helsinki has built an entire subterranean city beneath Helsinki which forms a "crucial line of defense for the capital. Finnish soldiers routinely train here, with a mission to keep Finland’s government running and city residents safe in a network that features more than 124 miles of tunnels, passageways and shelters" the WSJ reports.

The "extensive underground network" has been adapted over recent decades with one thing in mind: to become an impregnable defensive redoubt which provides most of the amenities of regular, above the surface existence: blast doors seal entrances...

The entrance to the Katri Vala Park bomb shelter in Helsinki

... passageways are adapted so the military—with a regiment dedicated to controlling the tunnels—can contain enemy infiltrators; utility and subway tunnels provide arteries for communications; there is a constant water supply and even Wi-Fi. In fact, there is enough shelter space for all city’s more than 600,000 residents in the event of an attack or disaster.

While the underground fortress has long been in place, the upcoming Russian drills are shaping up as a focal point for some very nervous Finns: “The soldiers make sure we will have the advantage underground if they ever come to us wanting a fight,” a former Finnish Defense Ministry official told the WSJ.

Showing just how pervasive anti-Russian sentiment has become across Europe, the WSJ notes that "with thousands of Russian troops expected to mass at the border for the exercise, the Finns worry the training could be a screen for aggressive military moves." Which is ironic because even as Russia’s war games take place on Finland’s border, NATO - of which Finland is not a member - has been aggressively stepping up its own presence in the Baltics, across the Gulf of Finland.

Still, that has not assuaged the local paranoia that the upcoming Russian drill could result in an outright invasion:

“More than looking at what will happen during the exercise, we’re more interested in what will happen afterward and make sure that the troops actually do leave,” said Jarno Limnell, a Finnish expert on cybersecurity and military science.

Then again, perhaps Finland does have reason to be concerned: after all it was the three-month-long "Winter War" against the Soviet Union in 1939-1940, which was started by Stalin on November 30, three months after the outbreak of World War II, that has shaped much of Finnish defensive planning.

A Finnish light artillery squad on patrol in January 1940

It was during this war that "in record cold temperatures, small groups of Finnish ski soldiers in winter camouflage picked off approaching Red Army soldiers in the forests. The Finns lost 10% of their territory to the Soviets, but maintained their sovereignty."

Planning is still shaped by that experience—with an emphasis on survival and forcing the enemy into unfamiliar terrain—though it shifted, after the Cold War, to the tunnels.

Fast forward to 2017 when in March of this year, Finland carried outn extensive military exercise based on a recent, real-world scenario: the takeover of government buildings by foreign special forces, like the Russians who seized installations in Crimea during the 2014 Russia-Ukraine conflict.  And, as the WSJ adds, "some of those exercises took place in Helsinki’s underground labyrinth. The network connects shopping centers, subway tunnels, parking garages and pathways that accompany power and water lines. Tunnels also lead into passageways used only by the military and connect to an island used exclusively for the military regiment responsible for defending Helsinki."

While much of the underground "city" is dual use - and many of the tunnels remain a secret - most Helsinki residents descend on occasion to get around, particularly in winter; some shop, swim, or attend an underground church. One swimming complex beneath a shopping center can be transformed within hours to shelter 3,800 people.

Kamppi Metro Station in Helsinki, where subway stations in the city center have
been equipped to serve as shelters.

Showing just how engrained the "defensive" mentality is among the locals, Ilkka Vahaaho, an employee of the city of Helsinki’s real estate department said that “today if you build a new underground space, it must be capable of being transformed into a defense center within days.” The state of the art defense centers are connected to city power and water supplies, and some have advanced ventilation capable of filtering out radioactive particles.

The entrance to the Johanneksenpuisto bomb shelter in Helsinki

To be sure, government defense strategists say it is "highly unlikely that Russia would invade as it did in Crimea." Furthermore, recently passed legislation allows Finland to ask other countries, including NATO members, for military assistance in case of attack. Nonetheless, Finnish authorities say their system of civilian-military defense councils assures that national defense is considered at all levels of civilian life. They say that the exercises underground and elsewhere "combine military and civilian organizations, including businesses and medical workers who practice responding to crises. "

That means preparing the whole population for the worst-case scenarios, said Janne Kuusela, the Defense Ministry’s policy director.


“The tunnel system we’ve built comes from our own lessons learned from the Second World War: You need to do what you can to keep your vital functions going even if you’re being heavily bombarded,” he said. “That’s why they’re there.”

And while nobody is realistically concerned about a full-blown military invasion, high-ranking officials say the country faces other, nonmilitary, threats from Russia: cyberattacks, information warfare and political and economic pressure, something referred to as “hybrid warfare.” And while there has been no actual evidence of that, Finnish authorities, echoding similar sentiments from other western nations, most notably the US, say they have seen "concerted efforts by pro-Russian nongovernmental groups, social media accounts and cyberattacks attempting to influence domestic politics" confirming - one would suppose - once again that Vladimir Putin is the greatest Machiavellian organizer of governmental overthrows among "democratic" nations, not to mention chaos and mayhem, around the globe armed with just a computer.

Like in the US and elsewhere, Moscow has scoffed publicly at accusations it uses such methods to influence politics abroad, and President Vladimir Putin has denied that the state is behind hacking attempts, which are merely attempts by "democratic" government to scapegoat foreign "adversaries" for domestic political instability. Ironically, there is little discourse in the current "democratic" press of the greatest political intervention machine known to man: the Central Intelligence Agency, whose offshore political exploits go back for decades.

In any case, Finland remains steadfast in its anti-Russian sentiment, and says it has faced Moscow’s use of pro-Russian activists, propaganda and political pressure on Finnish politicians since the Cold War.

As a result, this year 10 countries from NATO and the EU committed to establishing a research center focused on hybrid warfare, to open in Helsinki in September. “When Western Europe started talking about hybrid warfare and preparing to defend against it, we realized this is what we’ve already been doing for decades,” Kuusela, the defense ministry policy coordinator, told the WSJ.

Expect to hear much more about the Russian mega-drill in the coming months.


Putrid_Scum Sun, 07/16/2017 - 13:57 Permalink

Finland is on my list for post-Reset relocation.(Might) See you there. (Southern Switzerland might be nicer...for the post-Reset Party ;))I plan to drink beer, turn on the TV, and watch the shit hit the fan Putrid

DRTexas Stuck on Zero Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:40 Permalink

We(the military) are here to protect you.  You are responsible for building your own hideyhole.  We can fight or babysit.  Not both.  We are not a police force or a diplomatic corps. And, damn sure, not a housing agency. You sound a little like a welfare queen,  wonderng who is gonna pay fo yo babies.

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

TheReplacement DRTexas Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:28 Permalink

We here are taxpayers.You get paid with the taxes we pay.We have not been invaded... for like, ever.You still keep taking the pay.I never asked you to protect me.You still keep taking the pay.I don't want you to protect me.You still keep taking the pay.Oh wait, we have been invaded, by pretty much every banana republic in the hemisphere but not one finger was lifted to protect our southern border.You still keep taking the pay.We've had umpteen illegal wars across the entire globe and not one finger was lifted to protect the nation from the war criminals in DC.You still keep taking the pay.Who is the welfare queen?

In reply to by DRTexas

Never One Roach Buckaroo Banzai Sun, 07/16/2017 - 15:22 Permalink

The Russians are NOT the biggest threat for 95% of the Finlanders who are your simple hard working citizens. FINLAND: Rape epidemic by Muslim migrants is only one reason why Finns don’t want more Muslim ‘refugees,’ the majority of whom are military age men  Is rampant rape the price Finnish women must pay for giving asylum to Muslim migrants? Finland, now, has become “one of the least safe countries in Europe for women,” according to Finland’s leading newspaper, “all because of the Muslim influx.”

In reply to by Buckaroo Banzai

vato poco Never One Roach Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:18 Permalink

gosh, it's almost as if russia's closest neighbors - who share borders and hundreds of years of history w/ the bear; and (presumably) know them better than America's sniff-putin's-jock clique does - it's almost as if they don't trust the russians at all. but the learned ZH commentariat says that's just *silly*! who to believe? think, think ..  

In reply to by Never One Roach

halcyon techpriest Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:04 Permalink

Total WSJ crap. It's total fake news. Got LOTS of friends in Finland and they are laughing their asses off about this article.Most of the bomb shelters are old, from the cold-war era and have been repurposed or abandoned/out of use.The new constructions are merely about basic infra upgrades and building inside ground rock if efficient space use in the capital, where space is tight.Yes, there are some secret underground functions that have been built in the past 10 years, but do you honestly think that the Finns would be so fucking daft that they would broadcast all those on the front of the WSJ? Get real.Nothing to see here, move on.What Finland is worried about is energy/information/economic warfare by/against Russia (think stupid actions by the neocons and or Bruessels lackeys). Because those have immediate and critical consequences for Finland. 

In reply to by techpriest

Veritas X- halcyon Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:33 Permalink

Finally, an intelligent comment about this bs-wsj-fake news.Thank you halycon.Kittos ystävällinen Suomeksi.Finnish is my 4th language, wife is Finnish and I've lived in Finland for 3 years, in Helsinki during the '80's.Whether folks like it or not, when and if the missisles start flyin' &/or the bombs start falling, it's just as likely it would be american/nato blowing up things.Most people don't know that the Finns requested an alliance with Great Britain before the Winter War of 1939 with the Soviet Union.Churchill-the Brittish turned down the Finnish request.The Finns finally asked Germany to help them protect themselves from the Bolshevik Soviet Union.The Finns know their history and don't want to be Nato members.However, they got nwo-lackeys there too.X- 

In reply to by halcyon

DRTexas Veritas X- Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:48 Permalink

Technically true.  However; the request for an alliance was made after the writing was on the wall that they were a target of Russia.  All suggestions of any alliance was eschewed by Finland before that point when it was approached by Britain.  That is like trying to buy insurance after the accident.But go ahead and spin it how you want.

In reply to by Veritas X-

truthseeker47 Veritas X- Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:47 Permalink

Actually, the Finns asked for help from (almost) everyone when Stalin invaded their country in '39.  Especially America, but FDR liked the rooskies and he flat out refused to help the Finns fight them off.  Many individuals came to Finland from other scandinavian countries and America to help them however.  Russian Foreign Secretary Molotov said they were not bombing Finland, but merely airlifting food to starving Finns, so the Finns named the bombs "Molotov Bread Baskets".  Here is a photo of one of them: small peaceful nation of Finland preventing Stalin from over-running their country gave Hitler the idea that Russia was weak and resulted in the German attack of Russia in 1941. . The casualty ratio of the Winter was about 20 Russians to one Finn.  Having the World's Greatest Sniper helped the Finns  With 542 confirmed kills in the brief 3 1/2 months of the Winter War.

In reply to by Veritas X-

Veritas X- truthseeker47 Sun, 07/16/2017 - 18:15 Permalink

I'm very well aware of what happened; I've seen many Finnish small village cemeteries full of the brave men of Finland.True Heros. My wife's father was wounded Muolaa.btw, I live nowadays in Sweden.You say, "The casualty ratio of the Winter was about 20 Russians to one Finn.".It was Soviet Soldiers(!) , that were killed, not just Russians.I've heard, the kill-ratio for the whole war was 50 to 1; Soviet 50 vs Finns 1.Many of the Soviet soldiers were woefully prepared, lacking adequate weaponry, ammo, food, boots & suitable clothing.One of the greatest myths around is Operation Barbarossa was an aggression against the peaceful Soviets.The Soviet Union had a million man invasion force placed in Soviet Occupied Poland, ready to launch a surprise attack on the German Wehrmacht.Germany discovered the duplicitous soviet plan and launched their own surprise attack instead, Operation Barbarossa.Remember, History is written by the victors.X- 

In reply to by truthseeker47

truthseeker47 Veritas X- Sun, 07/16/2017 - 18:33 Permalink

BTW Veritas, I have read a lot about WW2 and spying.  The accepted story is that American spies found out Hitler was planning to attack Russia, and the US tried to warn Stalin.  Stalin's spies had not discovered that, and he refused to believe it until it was too late for the info to be useful.  Also BTW in the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement of 23 Sept '39 Germany agreed to let Stalin have Finland, so he invaded Finland 3 months later.

In reply to by Veritas X-

TheReplacement truthseeker47 Fri, 07/21/2017 - 18:18 Permalink

Go back and look at the numbers of prisoners the German armies took in the first couple of weeks.  Clearly the Soviets had piled up a ton of troops and material on the front, for this or that reason.There was a soviet era document found that provided the order for the Soviet army to invade western Europe, before Germany launched.  Hitler did in fact preempt Stalin.

In reply to by truthseeker47

Shropshire Lad GUS100CORRINA Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:06 Permalink

The Finns are wisely preparing for a major cataclysmic event by building huge shelters underground which can be sealed off.  Whether it is an EMP event, massive solar flares or the passage of Nibiru -- they will be prepared.  Russia has been building vast underground shelters also.  It's only the Nato countries that haver no interest in sheltering their citizens. 

In reply to by GUS100CORRINA

chubbar Putrid_Scum Sun, 07/16/2017 - 14:25 Permalink

When the fuck are these assholes going to quit with the "Russia invaded Crimea" bullshit? Crimea voted, in what was regarded as a fair election, by over 90% to join Russia after the US gov't (as attested to by Victoria Nuland) spent 5 billion to start a color revolution to overthrow the democratically elected president of Ukraine!Russia isn't going to be invading anyone. The fucking idiots in NATO continue to move missiles and troops onto the borders of Russia, who is being beligerent?

In reply to by Putrid_Scum

MEFOBILLS chubbar Sun, 07/16/2017 - 15:16 Permalink

 "Russia invaded Crimea" bullshit? I know.  When an author gets something so fundamentally wrong, then eveything else they say becomes suspect.  Crimea was a referendum, and there was no Russian invasion.  If you tell a big lie over and over (like Crimea was invaded), then sheeple will begin to believe.  The West is a master of the lie and deception.

In reply to by chubbar

Pure Evil MEFOBILLS Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:27 Permalink

Has anyone stopped to consider what the Russian's would have done if the vast majority of Cimeans had voted no in the referendum?I sincerely doubt the Russians would have retreated from Crimea had the vote gone against them.Not trying to imply the Russians were the aggressors in this instance since Crimea had been a part of Russia for quite a long time before Khrushchev had a brain fart and turned it over to Ukraine.But, it would still have been interesting to see what would have happened if the worm turned the other way.

In reply to by MEFOBILLS