Finnish security chief Antti Pelttari released a declassified report on December 10 which shed light on the extent of foreign intelligence operations in Finland which pointed to increased activities of “several dozens” employees of intelligence agencies from Russia and China that have been stationed permanently in the country.
“Several foreign intelligence agencies are operating actively on Finnish soil. Cyber-espionage campaigns are also targeted regularly at Finland,” said Pelttari when presenting the Security Intelligence Service’s (Supo) report, which specifically named Moscow and Beijing as the two principal actors that are actively stationing agents and carrying out activities inside the country.
Supo’s report linked Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, and its military intelligence counterpart, the GRU, to cyber-espionage campaigns targeting governmental institutions, private and state companies that have been contracted by the Finnish government, and other corporations that are engaged in product development and service production in the energy sector.
China’s intelligence service has been publicly linked to cyber-espionage operations that utilise existing maintenance systems and new kinds of malware to hack into both private and state entities whose “The product development has been of particular interest for the Chinese.
Supo offered a stark warning to its counterparts across Europe and the United States when it said it is becoming increasingly difficult for intelligence services to thwart clandestine espionage campaigns by both the Russians and Chinese due to rapidly changing technological advances that the FSB and MSS, China’s spy service, effectively harness and use to their advantage.
In addition to reporting on the activities of foreign intelligence agents, Supo’s report also said that the number of cases tracked by their counter-terrorism division had increased by over 35% compared to four years ago. Investigators from the agency opened up cases against 370 suspects in 2018, all of whom were thought to have ties to radical terrorist groups and the recruitment of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria.
EU-member Finland is not a part of NATO but works closely with the Western alliance in the intelligence sharing and gathering as well as military training and counter-terrorism activities.