Charlie Salonius Pasternak, Finnish Institute Of International Affairs, Helsinki discussed on Monocle 24: The Globalist


Around the world. It's 7 20 here in London and 9 20 in Helsinki. Finland is set to spend $143 million on a Russian border defense to strengthen preparedness against hybrid threats and a potential mass influx of asylum seekers. Charlie salonius pasternak is a senior research fellow at the Finnish institute of international affairs in Helsinki. Charlie, thank you for joining us. Firstly, what is the situation on the border currently? And what will this new fan be like? Well, the situation is calm. There's, of course, some traffic still just shows called practical or family related. Border crossings going on. So the fence isn't really about solving any current issue. It is more looking at the future. What it is it's expected to be the borders of course about a 1300 kilometers long, and the border the fence might cover a couple hundred kilometers. So basically at all of the border crossings, maybe ten 15 kilometers in either direction. Simply to help manage potential issues if Russia in the future were to try to use migrants as a weapon as we saw in Poland, for instance. And is this just all open land? Is there anything there right now? And you've got visions of a border wall inevitably think of Trump or is it going to be a pretty solid wall? Is it going to be a metal fence? What kind of apparatus are they going to put in place? What we've seen and heard so far is they're actually building a three kilometer test fence just to see what things kind of might work, but also to get the whole logistics chain and planning going on. It'll be a see through metal fence a couple of meters long, high with maybe some barbed wire at the top. The key will, of course, be all the different sensors. I mean, the border is already littered with sensors from IR to radar to motion sensing to kind of AI enabled systems. And of course, it has always been marked or I'll say always. Since the end of World War II, well marked. So there's no doubt about where the fence in a way should go. There's a border zone. So this is simply just to kind of add to the existing features and one might also think of the map as a whole geography. Some of it is not impenetrable, but shall we say, just deep dense forests. So it's never been particularly easy to just walk across. And what's the reaction being like of the finished people? Well, the government and opposition parties were able to come to a fairly quick solution. So politically, there was very little opposition. And based on just public discussions, of course, people have some concerns because they want to ensure that potential refugees can still easily come to the border, seek asylum. That won't be a problem, I think. So most people just saw this as something that unfortunately had to be done because of Russia's behavior and propensity to use this whole hybrid toolkit. And as there been any reaction yet from Russia to the proposals. No, I suspect that quite often, as with kind of finished Swedish finished Russian relations, we're not at the top of the agenda. It's probably Ukraine and fair number of other things. And finish and Russian border guards have historically had functional relationships. I won't call them good necessarily. But they meet frequently enough to try to solve problems. So as long as things stay at that level, it rarely with the exception of 2015 and 16 when Russia actually did do one of these refugee proofs of concepts to try to show that it could release migrants to Finland. The cooperation is quite good. So we haven't heard anything from Russia seriously. And I suspect we probably won't. And it looks like this is going to be a vast border. How long is this going to take to build? Well, the overall planning right now envisions three to four years. And again, that probably reflects that the sense isn't that this is to solve an immediate security crisis. But in a very finished way, if you're going to build it, you might as well do it really well so that at last and then serves a broader purpose again. It's fairly easy to just put up a sense, but of course you got to do it legally. So a lot of the land is owned by private individuals. So you have to negotiate land usage rights to figure out what the kind of different censors should be, et cetera. So it's not just about putting up the fence. And of course, you then need to have people actually patrolling the fence or more people. So three to four years is the expected kind of total timeline. And is there any kind of new technology that they're going to be putting into the fences they're going to be a lot of CCTV? Are they going to use drones along it as well? All of those are being used. I am aware that there's going to be some more shall we say existing technology will probably be used to a greater degree. Again, I mentioned kind of AI enabled. So already their systems to distinguish between a bear or a man crawling as it were or the fence that I said, the border itself is clearly delineated, but certainly there will be new systems. And I would suspect that, as you suggest, drones, but maybe largely autonomous drones, which immediately can sense that's deer that's a bear,

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