Finland’s PM clarifies Air Force response to Russian jets

Katainen spoke to Yle on Monday in Helsinki. ( Yle )
Katainen spoke to Yle on Monday in Helsinki. ( Yle )
The Finnish premier says he was given incorrect information about the Air Force response to incursions by Russian jets two weeks ago — but dismissed calls for a formal report to Parliament on the matter.

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has admitted that he made incorrect statements about last month’s violations of Finnish airspace by Russian state-owned planes. He said on Monday that he made misstatements because he had been misinformed. The statements related to the role and timing of Air Force Hornet fighter jet sorties in the area.

The parliamentary defence committee has demanded more information about the chain of events on May 20.

During a review into the incident on Monday afternoon, the head of Parliament’s defence committee, Jussi Niinistö, criticised the defence administration for not passing on information to the prime minister and other officials.

Katainen said that information would be conveyed to the committee according to its requests. But he ruled out making a report on the issue to the legislature as a whole, as opposition MPs demanded on Monday.

“Too many contradictory and confusing statements”

The Centre Party’s parliamentary delegation is calling for an official explanation. In its words, there have been “too many contradictory and confusing statements” on what happened that hot, stormy Tuesday evening off the coast of Porvoo.

The Finnish Defence Forces have promised to improve their communication procedures in cases of airspace violations, following last month’s incursions into Finnish territory. However military top brass insist that no mistakes were made.

Katainen is to step down from his post this month, giving way to an as-yet-unnamed successor from his National Coalition Party.

Related stories from around the Arctic:

Canada:  Feature Interview: Will Russia’s actions in Ukraine affect relations in the Arctic Council?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s NATO membership no substitute for strong nation defence, Yle News

Norway:  Nordics rethink security after Ukraine crisis, Yle News

Russia: Russia puts countries on edge in the Arctic, Cryopolitics

Sweden: Sweden’s defense minister calls for more fighter jets to counter Russian threat, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. official criticises Russia for meddling in Finland’s NATO, Yle News

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