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Cablegate: Chief of the Finnish Defense Forces Meeting With

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHHE #0636/01 2291351
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171351Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3678
INFO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 4106
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 4811

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000636

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2017
TAGS: PREL MARR GL FI
SUBJECT: CHIEF OF THE FINNISH DEFENSE FORCES MEETING WITH
RUSSIAN ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF

Classified By: DAO JOY SHASTEEN FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
------------------------
1. (C) ADM Juhani Kaskeala, Chief of the Finnish Defense
Forces (CHOD), briefed the Ambassador on his recent trip
to Russia, where he met with the Russian Army Chief of
Staff (and Deputy Defense Minister) Yuri Baluyevsky.
Kaskeala and Baluyevsky discussed, inter alia, the US
missile defense initiative in Poland and the Czech
Republic; Kosovo; a Russian offer of defense sales to
Finland; NATO and Iraq. ADM Kaskeala stated that his
discussions with the Russian Army Chief were cordial and
frank; unlike the previous Army Chief, Colonel-General
Baluyevsky was "encouraging and not dictatorial." The
Finnish CHOD also discussed a recent visit to Greenland
and his satisfaction with the newly proposed Finnish
defense budget. End summary.

Russia
-------------------------
2. (SBU) The CHOD stated that he gave a verbal
invitation to the Russian Army Chief to join the Nordic
Defense Chiefs' meeting this year. The Russian Army
Chief was not able to accept this year's invitation, but
said that he would look forward to next year.

3. (SBU) The CHOD also invited the Army chief to send
Russian officers to the command and control exercises
that Finland conducts for peacekeeper. The CHOD stated
that this type of training would improve the Russian
view of what NATO and peacekeeping are about and would
be of more value than simply having troop exchanges.

4. (SBU) The CHOD invited the Russian Army chief to
further their dialogue on creating a recognized Maritime
picture of the Gulf of Finland that can be used by both
the civilian and military sectors in tracking the
traffic in the Gulf of Finland.

5. (C) The CHOD offered the Russian military
opportunities to attend the Finnish National Defence
University as both students and instructors. The CHOD
thought it would be a great asset to the NDU student to
learn both the Finnish and Russian view of the Winter
and Continuation Wars (WWII) in Finland. The CHOD also
discussed the possibility of having junior officer
exchanges at the company grade-level, envisioning the
Finnish and Russian captains of two companies of Finnish
or Russian soldiers working together and the importance
of that experience for both. (Marshal Mannerheim who led
Finland through the WWII years had training in the
Tsarist military system; this experience served him well

SIPDIS
in conducting campaigns against Russian forces.) The
CHOD underscored for the Ambassador that the emphasis
would be on showing Russian officers that physical abuse
and bullying are not the best means to train good
soldiers. Finnish military training would then serve as
an example of how a democracy trains its military forces.

6. (C) The CHOD noted that the average Russian officer
exhibited more pride in his unit than the last time he
(the CHOD) visited (pre 2004). He said the units he saw
had clean and functioning infrastructure and that the
officers voiced strong support for President Putin, whom
the Russian officer corps sees as the main person making
this revival of the Russian military happen. Colonel
General Baluyevsky stated that their renewal plan is
going forward as scheduled beginning with infrastructure
improvements, then concentrating on recruiting and

keeping quality people and finally focusing on equipment
acquisition.

7. (SBU) The Russian Army Chief then asked ADM Kaskeala
if the Finnish Defense Force would be interested in
buying equipment from Russia. The CHOD stated that
Finland would be fine with Russian equipment, if: it
meets NATO standards and as long as the Russian defense
industry followed the appropriate Finnish and EU rules
on defense equipment buying, i.e. the Finnish government
first looks for a Finnish company to fill the
requirement, then EU companies, then it goes to third
parties.

8. (C) The conversation also touched on Kosovo, with
Kaskeala asking Baluyevsky if he truly believed that
independence for Kosovo would serve as a "domino" for
other areas in conflict. When the Russian confirmed
that was his belief, Kaskeala pursued the line of
inquiry further, asking whether the "domino theory"
would hold if Kosovo grew tired of waiting and
ultimately declared itself independent. Kaskeala
expressed his doubt that such a step by Kosovo would
cause other "domino countries" to follow suit. In the
end, the CHOD commented that the two flag officers
agreed to disagree on this issue.

9. (C) Colonel-General Baluyevsky asked ADM Kaseala's
opinion of Iraq. The CHOD stated that he was
pessimistic, that conditions appeared to be that a
full civil war which should not have intervention (on
either side) from an outside source. Both felt, said
the CHOD, that there was not a "military only" solution.

10. (C) The two military leaders also discussed the
European Missile Defense system. After the CHOD neatly
laid out the NATO Military Committee chairman's
argument on having the system in place in Europe the
Russian Army Chief stated that the Russian position on
this is a geopolitical and not a military one.

11. (C) The CHOD ended his comments to the Ambassador
by saying that he thought that the Russian officer
corps saw itself rising back to the level of a better
trained and equipped group of professionals and that
recent examples of the Russian military reaching out
beyond its borders, such as the TU 95 fly-by of Guam
and the Russian submarine "flag-planting" in the Artic,
were part of the exercise of Russian military capability
echoing the past "glory" of a stronger, better funded
force.

Budget
-------------------------
12. (C) The CHOD expressed some satisfaction with what
he expects the Finnish government's 2009 budget program
-- slated for announcement in early fall --- will
contain for the armed forces. He stated that a defense
budget plus-up proposal of eight percent appears likely
which would allow the MOD to obtain 18 Hawk trainers
from Switzerland; to conduct the necessary reserve
training for next year; and to continue EU Battlegroup
support. He commented that the budget process is going
much more smoothly this year with the MOD, Finance
Minister and Prime Minister all in agreement.

Greenland
-------------------------
13. (C) The CHOD discussed his recent visit to Greenland
where he got a chance to see the retreating ice shelf
and the formation of new icebergs. He said that he, the
Danish CHOD and the German CHOD were there when the
Russian submarine "planted" the Russian flag capsule.
He remarked the Russians' action prompted a series of
phone calls and conversations within the Danish and
German Ministries of Defense. However, from the Finnish
point of view, the flag-planting was clearly for
domestic Russian public consumption and not a cause for
enormous concern.
HYATT

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