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New Baltic Data Cable Plan Unfolding

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the under-the-sea dept.

The Internet 65

jones_supa writes "Details are shaping up of a plan for a new government-backed high capacity data cable between Germany and Finland, routed through the Baltic Sea. The project to significantly upgrade Finland's international data transfer capacity has long been high on the government's list of priorities. It could improve the country's competitiveness in ICT technologies and digital services. Following a meeting of the cabinet's economic policy committee on Wednesday, Pekka Haavisto, the minister responsible for state ownership steering, told the press that the state will take part in the venture as a partial owner. The estimated cost of the undersea data cable project is around 100 million euros. Haavisto said that roughly one third of the costs could be paid by the state, another third by institutional investors and the remainder by private companies. So far, all data transmission to Finland has taken place via the Øresund Bridge, that is through Denmark and Sweden."

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Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCHQ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668025)

And as a useful side effect to stops GCHQ and NSA from spying on all those communications between Finland and Germany. Well at least until they manage to tap the fibre optic underwater without Germany noticing the signal reduction.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668071)

And as a useful side effect to stops GCHQ and NSA from spying on all those communications between Finland and Germany. Well at least until they manage to tap the fibre optic underwater without Germany noticing the signal reduction.

*If* above ground lines can be tapped the US Navy will figure out how to tap underwater lines. They've been doing that sort of stuff for many many decades. I expect that the British and Russians have a similar capability. Deep, dark, cold water does not provide the protection most people assume. Deep waters hides those who would tamper with the line. That bridge currently being used may provide better security since it is observable.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (4, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | about 9 months ago | (#45668141)

It is going to be a bitch sneaking a US nuclear submarine into this particular area.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668179)

It is going to be a bitch sneaking a US nuclear submarine into this particular area.

That's why we have SEAL Delivery Vehicles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SEAL_Delivery_Vehicle

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45668287)

you would have better luck with german style smaller subs, I doubt those delivery vehicles have that long of a range to make it through from the entrance to the baltic sea to the cable.

though subs in the baltic isn't really unheard of, but if they just encrypt the link at the ends and take the keys over with a ferry every now and then, that way it gets pretty expensive and pointless to tap it there(even if hw for performing on the fly encryption might be expensive as well).. also, they would pretty much have to perform any filtering they want on the data at the tap point - or run an equally expensive cable from the tap point. though I'm pretty sure german and finnish industry would gladly sell them the expensive cabling needed for it, were cia stupid enough to pay for it.

so why bother? NSA and CIA being super afraid that the last real nazis have re-emerged in Finland after hiding out there after WW2 and are secretly re-arming Germany by doing product development by utilizing Finnish metal industry(there's some history there you know) and that the sale of Nokia to MS was an elaborate ruse to get Finnish agents into dev teams so they could backdoor windows and all that was going to be planned over the undersea link ? ? ?

anyhow, the baltic sea is a muddy mess so good luck for whoever has to do it.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668477)

you would have better luck with german style smaller subs, I doubt those delivery vehicles have that long of a range to make it through from the entrance to the baltic sea to the cable.

A SDV can be airdropped from a C-130. It can also be launched/recovered from a conventional looking ship traveling through the area, fishing, cargo, etc.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668887)

you would have better luck with german style smaller subs

"German style", eh? That a technical term?

NSA and CIA being super afraid that the last real nazis have re-emerged in Finland after hiding out there after WW2 and are secretly re-arming Germany by doing product development by utilizing Finnish metal industry(there's some history there you know) and that the sale of Nokia to MS was an elaborate ruse to get Finnish agents into dev teams so they could backdoor windows and all that was going to be planned over the undersea link ? ? ?

Yes, the intentions of two of the most secretive agencies in the world have been deduced by some random person on the internet that clearly has had too much crack.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45669559)

you would have better luck with german style smaller subs, I doubt those delivery vehicles have that long of a range to make it through from the entrance to the baltic sea to the cable.

Uh, what? They're small enough you can deliver them from practically anything oceangoing.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45669881)

NSA and CIA being super afraid that the last real nazis have re-emerged in Finland after hiding out there after WW2 and are secretly re-arming Germany by doing product development by utilizing Finnish metal industry(there's some history there you know) and that the sale of Nokia to MS was an elaborate ruse to get Finnish agents into dev teams so they could backdoor windows and all that was going to be planned over the undersea link ? ? ?

Given the Finnish expertise in metal [imgur.com] , and the recent interest in sonic weaponry, I find this deduction to be entirely plausible.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (3, Informative)

TheP4st (1164315) | about 9 months ago | (#45668683)

Maybe so, then again that might not be necessary as NSA are on very good terms with their Swedish equivalent FRA as revealed by a Snowden leak published in Sweden a couple of days ago which reported how FRA assisted NSA in the hacking of target machines in operation Winterlight. [google.com] I can easily see how Sweden would bend over backwards to help USA gaining physical access to the cables just like with the extraordinary rendition of two asylum seekers in December 2001. [wikipedia.org]
I long ago ceased being proud of the (imaginary) neutrality and foreign politics of my native Sweden, and sadly find it easier and easier to explain why over a decade ago I decided to leave Sweden and its great health care, education, welfare, beautiful nature and so forth.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (2)

G-forze (1169271) | about 9 months ago | (#45668143)

Actually, no. Since we know from the Snowden leaks that the Swedish FRA is in cahoots with NSA and GSHQ, anything that passes through Sweden will automatically be scanned. A new undersea cable that bypasses Sweden thus has infinitely better chances of being secure.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/01/gchq-europe-spy-agencies-mass-surveillance-snowden [theguardian.com]

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45668241)

Actually, no. Since we know from the Snowden leaks that the Swedish FRA is in cahoots with NSA and GSHQ, anything that passes through Sweden will automatically be scanned. A new undersea cable that bypasses Sweden thus has infinitely better chances of being secure.

No. Being spied on by Finland and Germany's spy agencies is not really more secure than being spied on by Finland, Sweden and Denmark's spy agencies. And its not like Germany wouldn't supply interesting things to the USA, at best they won't allow mass surveillance. Finland too probably.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45668267)

German telco/gov staff will give all to the NSA as it has always done and will do. GCHQ was very interested in Finland over its past telco brands and emerging cell phone tech exports.
A new cable is great for the local ping and bandwidth costs but offers the same security as any cable in any part of the EU - none.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668989)

It is for Finland and Germany.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45672365)

Finland is having a huge discussion right now about two facts:

1. Intelligence service cannot perform such functions as they would be strictly illegal.
2. Intelligence service is not funded sufficiently to enable such surveillance even if it was legal.

It comes from decades of being in between two evil empires during cold war, when it didn't make sense to have a big intelligence agency - both adversaries far outstripped its abilities anyway. So instead if focused on a small core of functions, such as counter espionage and VIP protection, which is does fairly well.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 9 months ago | (#45668553)

Terve terve!

Why not we go through Russia and not have NSA/GCH worry? We get trojans and botnets, but no NSA/GCH paska.

Kiitos!

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45669523)

And we know Denmark has warm snuggle feelings with the US as well.
http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-selfie-mandela-memorial-service-david-cameron-helle-thorning-schmidt-2013-12

And our traitor of a Prime Minister has said on the record that she has no problems with the NSA wiretaps.

It seems like it does not matter which side you are voting for here, they are all political whores who uses their role as prime minister as a stepping stone for greater jobs abroad. And betrays their country in the process.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668177)

Of course they can tap underwater links, we even know the companies that do it, but can they do it without the Germans detecting it, and will the Germans encrypt the link anyway?:

Glimmerglass make a range of covert taps and software interception equipment:
http://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/docs/glimmerglass/275_transparent-signal-access-and-monitoring.html
http://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/docs/glimmerglass/274_electronic-blitz-intelligence-ops-are-poised-to-gather-move.html
http://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/docs/glimmerglass/55_glimmerglass-cybersweep.html

That bridge route traverses Sweden which is one of the countries compromised by NSA surveillance, CIA political shaping. So Finland probably won't trust the Swedes to be loyal to Europe more than the US.

See 'Britain and Sweden block EU investigation into NSA spying":
http://www.dailydot.com/news/britain-uk-sweden-block-spying-investigation/

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668423)

Like the US Navy needs to secretly tap anything in order to get the data They'll just ask nicely and Finland will be more than willing to accommodate their every whim. Since Finland is a complete lap-dog of the states.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45673167)

And as a useful side effect to stops GCHQ and NSA from spying on all those communications between Finland and Germany. Well at least until they manage to tap the fibre optic underwater without Germany noticing the signal reduction.

Why would you think that? The German government is just as surveillance happy as everyone else. They will simply tap the line where it runs ashore and then share the data with their "friends".

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 9 months ago | (#45668147)

The Finns have their own intelligence service that wants to expand [yle.fi] . They want to model their powers after what the Swedes have done.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45672385)

Some do, some don't. There's a pretty big discussion about the topic right now, and there's no consensus within the organisation or parliament about the issue at the moment.

Re:Does it secure Finland-Geman comms from NSA/GCH (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45672327)

Underwater fibre will be tapped shortly as a matter of routine. This is what US/UK submarines do.

This does however circumvent Sweden, meaning their fairly recent law making it completely legal to tap all of internet traffic going through the country is not going to be as effective. And it helps reliability as well as latency, as Finland currently serves as a major transit point for Asian, and more specifically Russian traffic (which is often stated as the biggest reason for Swedish law).

Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668033)

Free repairs included.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 9 months ago | (#45668155)

All those ships dragging their anchors over the fiber optics was a complete coincidence.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#45668399)

Serious question: If the NSA is tapping the lines via submarine, just how in the hell are they able to capture and storage that much data? There's no way they can process an entire fiber feed from the subs on-board computers, and the drives would fill up in a heartbeat assuming the disks aren't I/O bound.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (3, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | about 9 months ago | (#45668647)

Pigzip [hackles.org] .

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45668923)

They won't be storing it all.

At a guess, I expect they record all traffic with source or destination addressed of a specific IP (government official's home computers, that sort of thing), and also extract just summary data from certain protocols (All port 25 traffic will be checked to see if it's SMTP, and if so source/dest addresses and subjects captured, and possibly message bodies.) There's no point capturing, say, all facebook traffic when they can obtain it directly from Facebook's servers anyway.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45669567)

You don't store it all, just the stuff you're interested in.

Also, do you have any idea of the displacement of a submarine? They could be retrofitted to hold one hell of a storage array.

Seriously, these are not even close to valid objections.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#45670647)

Regarding submarines; all I know is that living quarters and internal mobility is extremely limited. But my knowledge dates back to what I knew from the 80s and 90s. Perhaps technology and miniaturization allowed them to reclaim that space. I honestly don't know.

Re:Submarine cable provided by the NSA. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45670921)

Even back then they had submarines with room for nuclear missiles in them. You could certainly remove the armaments from an "ordinary" attack sub and fill the space with an array. It would be nontrivial and expensive, but they're spending our money.

Do this with private industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668035)

The state should not be involved. Private investment 100% should fund this venture. If you want to spend 3x more money and wind up with something that doesn't work right when its done, then by all means do the state involvement but at your own peril. Just look at America's Obama Health Bill for an example of exactly what might happen. Get the government out of the business world.

Why under the sea? (1)

Gen_Music (2420986) | about 9 months ago | (#45668139)

Why can't they just put more wires on the bridge. I don't see how it is advantageous to drop it under the sea when that makes carrying out maintenance and repairs so much more expensive. And that's before we get to instances of espionage. Both sides of the pond have snooped on telco lines with submarines before.

Re:Why under the sea? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 9 months ago | (#45668213)

The bridge between Germany and Finland?

Re:Why under the sea? (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 9 months ago | (#45668227)

Haven't you seen it? It's huge.

There are more jumpers are the Finnish end though.

Re:Why under the sea? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45668257)

I think you missed a geography lesson.

going through a land+bridge route would need going through either russia and the baltic countries or a long way through sweden and denmark.

a bridge from finland to germany would literally be the biggest engineering project ever performed on earth.

Re:Why under the sea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668301)

Still, makes you wonder why they don't use a cable through the baltic from Sweden to Finland, otherwise keeping the old bridge/tunnel (the Ãresund bridge (oh yeah, UTF-8 really is difficult indeed!) really is half bridge/half tunnel)/land route, that should give you roughly the same latency, and also would improve latency both to sweden and norway and to the main european continent.

Re:Why under the sea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45670051)

The existing connection is Finland-Sweden-Denmark-Germany. The problems are bandwidth and spying.

Re:Why under the sea? (1)

Gen_Music (2420986) | about 9 months ago | (#45681543)

It's easier to see a spy in places you already have surveillance and can regularly inspect (like bridges).

Re:Why under the sea? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 9 months ago | (#45668297)

A EU wide loop or ring can be seen from ideas like:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANTAT-3 [wikipedia.org]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ODIN_(cable_system) [wikipedia.org]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAT-14 [wikipedia.org] (note WikiLeaks news)
Low peering costs and wonderful bandwidth ensure all regional telcos have few options and the NSA gets every packet.

The Bridge (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 9 months ago | (#45668485)

The bridge [imdb.com] is also subject of a brilliant TV series featuring a Swedish detective with some serious Asperger issues. Pure Nerd material! (And yes, this is the original, the french/british and the american/mexican ones are the knock-offs).

Re:The Bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668765)

Here's the torrent: Bron - 2011 [thepiratebay.ac] .

Capacity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45668839)

Does anybody have a link with more details such as the capacity of the cable, speed per lambda etc?

It's about Russia, Sweden & the US (5, Insightful)

andhar (194607) | about 9 months ago | (#45668987)

According to the Swedish news, Russia sends a good deal of its internet traffic via Sweden to the outside world. They say that the Swedish link is faster and cheaper. Meanwhile the Swedish equivalent of the NSA, called FRA, is spying on Russian traffic (legally) and it sends valuable info on to the US (legality unclear).

Finland:
1) Build a new data link that circumvents Sweden's NSA-friendly surveillance
2) Make it only slightly more expensive than the current data link via Sweden, but tout your net neutrality
3) Sell boatloads of capacity to Russia
4) Profit

Re:It's about Russia, Sweden & the US (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 9 months ago | (#45669869)

But the Fins will pass the traffic on to the Germans...

Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45671595)

Finland is not exactly pro Russian. They fought against the Russians in WW2. They even partially allied themselves to Nazi Germany in order to better fight the Russians.

Finland will spy on Russian traffic just like Sweden. Finland will also probably share interesting things with the US, the only question is whether all traffic will be monitored by the US.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45672609)

We finns aren't pro anything. We fought russians, we were bombed by brits. And we had to fight Germans as a part of our peace deal. During cold war, our politics were to convince both sides that it's far better that they leave us alone. Considering that russians had plans to tank rush us, while US had plans to destroy the country using tactical nukes if that happened to prevent infrastructure being used by Soviets, you'll find that mots finns are very much neutral. Being the only country in the molotov-ribbentrop to not get conquered and to fight Red Army off with some of the craziest numbers in history (http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/finland/images/23423870/title/very-afraid-photo) makes you not like those who's stab you in the back with nukes in case the conflict started again.

There are some crazies that want into the NATO, and some even greater crazies that want some sort of an alliance with Russia. But most of us like status quo, where both of the great evils keep on fighting one another while the small country in the far north stands on the sidelines and doesn't interfere.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45676329)

... stab you in the back with nukes ...

Making the Russians *think* you may respond to a tank rush with nukes is one thing. Doing so is something completely different.

I was all prepared to ask if the Finnish word for "bluff" is xxxxx but then Google translate says the Finish word is "bluffi". That really undermines the attempt at humor.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45677963)

Not answering tank rush with nukes. Attacking key infrastructure with nukes to deny USSR its usage.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45678483)

Not answering tank rush with nukes. Attacking key infrastructure with nukes to deny USSR its usage.

No, answering tank rushes, not merely an abstract threat. The infrastructure identified as *potential* targets for low yield tactical nukes were bridges, airfields and ports and the context imminent capture or after capture in a WW3 scenario. Hell Norway and Sweden were even on board. Norway was going to use its fighters to clear a path for US bombers, and if the US provided a tactical nuke Norway was even willing to deliver it to the Finnish target with one of its fighters.

Again, its a plan, a plan probably intentionally leaked/stolen as part of a deterrent/bluff campaign. During the cold war the US probably had plans on nuking every spot on the planet under some contingency. There were probably plans to nuke US territory if seized by the Soviets. The Finnish author who broke the story even admits that it was highly unlikely the US would have actually used the nukes in the event of a Soviet incursion, that a Soviet attack on US forces would probably have been necessary for the US to go nuclear.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45683173)

Let me say this again, because clearly you are not listening due to your predisposition to thinking of NATO as "good guys".

The goal of NATO campaign was not to hit tank rush. It was to largely AVOID hitting USSR/Warsaw pact forces, and hit infrastructure BEFORE tanks arrived. This would accomplish the following goals:

1. Avoid direct conflict with USSR.
2. Destroy infrastructure to deny its usage to USSR.

The reason why they chose to use tactical nukes instead of conventional weaponry for this is because of required speed. NATO would need to essentially level key cities very quickly, before USSR tanks reached them. Conventional weapons were/are simply not powerful enough for the task.

Finnish answer to this threat was very pragmatic, as usual. Ever since the plan came to light back in Cold War, every new building had to include a bomb shelter. Additionally the cities most likely to be bombed had large shelters built into the bedrock designed to withstand tactical nuclear weapons that NATO would employ. Essentially the goal would be to rely on the fact that NATO didn't really care about finnish population in any way, it just wanted to destroy the infrastructure before USSR would arrive, and so you'd build shelters everywhere and try to save as many people as possible.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45683557)

Its not that I am not hearing what you are saying. Its that the Finnish author's work that you are paraphrasing is saying something different.

It was to largely AVOID hitting USSR/Warsaw pact forces, and hit infrastructure BEFORE tanks arrived.

The original Finnish author was clear, the plan was hit targets under threat of **imminent** capture or already captured. Imminent would mean the tanks are basically there.

NATO would need to essentially level key cities very quickly, before USSR tanks reached them.

According to the original Finnish author the targets were bridges, air fields and ports. Leveling cities was not part of the plan. Low yield tactical nukes were to be used to limit damage to local civilians.

Conventional weapons were/are simply not powerful enough for the task.

That is also contradicting that original Finnish author that indicated that targets such as bridges would probably be first hit with conventional weapons rather than tactical nukes.

Finnish answer to this threat was very pragmatic, as usual. Ever since the plan came to light back in Cold War, every new building had to include a bomb shelter.

According to the original Finnish author, with US encouragement. Again, the US wanted to limit damage to civilians in these WW3 scenarios.

NATO didn't really care about finnish population in any way, it just wanted to destroy the infrastructure before USSR would arrive, and so you'd build shelters everywhere and try to save as many people as possible.

That is an erroneous portrayal of the original Finnish author's work.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45684719)

I have no idea which finnish author you're referencing. Kindly cite the author's name.
Notably, I'm a finn.

Your other points:
1. "Imminent" means Red Army will be there shortly. Finland is a neutral country, and NATO would not start a nuclear war with Warsaw Pact over attack on one. This is why tactical, rather than strategic weapons would be employed - and they would need to be employed before Red Army arrives. This way neither side gets into a nuclear war with one another, and yet another independent state gets shafted by two evil empires. Modus operandi of Cold War, minus the proximity and size of Finnish/Russian border, it's importance to USSR, and hence requirement to use tactical nukes.
2. We finns were effectively forced to play both sides to survive. We still have to. We always had our NATO lackeys, and our Warsaw Pact lackeys, while most people stood firmly on the side of independence. This is true even today, when our foregn minister is leaning towards Russia, while our European minister is a hardcore NATO apologist to the point where he actually badmouthed other Nordics. It's the way it has to be if a small nation of five million is to survive and thrive with its border just a few hundred kilometers from St.Petersburg, making it a desireable conquest for both pro and anti Russian forces in the world.
3. NATO's interest lied in stopping Red Army from using country's infrastructure. That included bridges AND large population centers with their ability to provide logistical support for conqueror. It obviously makes no sense to employ tactical nuclear weapons against bridges. It obviously does make sense to employ tactical nuclear weapons against cities to destroy their infrastructure.

Again, I have no clue which author you're referencing. I on the other hand am referencing my own country's history, and it's not like it's a huge secret around here - when pretty much every building except small homes has a bomb shelter that is mandated by law, you get used to it. NATO countries are obviously not going to advertise this stuff to their population any more than they will advertise any other things that would negatively impact the propaganda image of NATO being a "good empire".

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45686565)

I have no idea which finnish author you're referencing. Kindly cite the author's name. Notably, I'm a finn.

“Without Mercy” – U.S. Strategic Intelligence and Finland in the Cold War
Jukka Rislakki
http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2011/12/finland-and-american-intelligence [economist.com]

"It remains unknown in what kind of situations the superpowers would have resorted to their nuclear arsenal. By the mid 1960s the use of tactical nuclear weapons had become an increasingly remote possibility despite the fact that the United States had approximately 7,000 stored in Europe. It is unlikely that the U.S.A would have used them for purposes other than repelling or preventing an attack against herself.

It is hard to build a reliable picture of comprehensive plans and their exact nature since documents have come to light only randomly, and those that have are incomplete. (And practically nothing definite is known about the Soviet plans.) What is obvious, however, is that in the event of the outbreak of a war, all listed targets would not have been attacked automatically and all the bombs used would not have carried nuclear warheads."

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45687347)

Ah, Jukka Rislakki. Interesting. It's obviously going to slightly gloss over NATO's actions as it was written for US essay competition, he's quite a bit more neutral in his finnish material.

Regardless, I must admit I haven't read this particular essay of his. I have read several of his writings though, and he's fairly accurate.

That said, Cold War plans, while "not certain", are fairly well known. Like most things of the time, these things were open secrets, if for no other reason than to give them preventative meaning. This goes for a lot of things, such as Soviet tank rushes across Western Europe, NATO encirclement and "beheading strike" concept, MAD and so on.

The problem is that politicians who unlike writers have direct access to intelligence have to make decisions. When you read what people like Rislakki write, and then look at actions taken, you have to be fairly naive not to draw the obvious links.

Let's start with why Finland is an important connection point for both Warsaw Pact and NATO:
1. Access to one side of provenly effective form of blocading the entire USSR baltic fleet in Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg). Germans pulled this blockade successfully in WW2 by controlling both Estonia and Finland ends of the narrow passage out of the Leningrad and installing a creative net-like alarm system. Not a single submarine from Soviet Baltic fleet escaped it.
2. Mainland access to Sweden and Norway:
a. Through Sweden and Norway, there's a very easy to access route to entire Northern Central Europe, which were not as reinforced as East/West borders.
b. Access to Norway which accounted for loss of entire Northern Europe, including all the key ports for European side of Arctic. Norway is a NATO state, and it also offers a fairly easy naval assault path to UK.
3. Mainland access to St. Petersburg and Murmansk, locations for both Baltic and Arctic fleets of USSR.
4. Island province of Ahvenanmaa/Åland (currently demilitarized area) which controls the key junction in Baltic Sea.
5. The only neutral country proven to have the combat prowess to withstand full brunt of both Red army without any significant outside military assistance (the only country to be included in Molotov-Ribbentrop that did not get annexed by either signatory state in spite of two attempts by Red Army, first of which was against a completely unprepared agrarian state). After the war, Finland adopted "we may not be able to stop you, but we'll bleed you so much trying to take us that you'll remember why even Stalin decided we're not worth the cost", our military is one of the few that still has universal conscription and we have exceptional amount of various weapons, including heavy weapons stashed all across the country. Effectively too dangerous to attempt to push to join side by force without very significant motivator.

NATO had a problem in that Sweden was not a NATO member, and Norway did not offer an easy access to Finland, making direct assault exceptionally difficult. USSR has no such problem for obvious geographic reasons, and has massive vested interest in not exposing Leningrad and Murmansk to NATO, just like the had the problem exposing these to Nazi Germany, which caused the two wars between Finland and Russia.

As a result, the most feasibly scenario was that USSR would attempt to occupy Finland to secure both Leningrad and Murmansk. To counteract the risk of using Finland's infrastructure as a path to gain a new assault route on Europe (just like Nazi Germany did with France by going through Benelux instead of assaulting directly over mutual border), such infrastructure would need to be demolished as effectively as possible. Worst case scenario would mean that Finnish army would collapse within weeks of the conflict and go into guerrilla warfare mode, which would mean that cities and their infrastructure would become controlled by Red Army. That means that destruction of any city infrastructure would be a key NATO priority. This would have to be done in a way that would be quick enough to inflict necessary damage before Red army was in the cities to avoid NATO vs Warsaw Pact war.

That means using tactical nuclear weapons.

As a result, politicians adopted the only policy they could. They mandated by law that all buildings would have shelters built in the basements. Large shelters were also constructed directly in the bedrock in large cities, which would be built to withstand common NATO tactical nuclear warheads.

If there was no such policy, Finnish politicians of the time would not have adopted such a harsh limitation on builders. Urban buildup was in force at the time, and this particular requirement was costly. But it was viewed as necessary by people with information.

Much of Cold War history is like mathematics. You balance the formula based on things you know. We know the importance of the area, modus operandi of one side and weapon of choice of the other side, and what people with secret intelligence did as to counteract it.
From this, we can derive the rest. How far do we want to go with it depends on our view, and who we prefer to view as positive, and who as a negative.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45688131)

Worst case scenario would mean that Finnish army would collapse within weeks of the conflict and go into guerrilla warfare mode, which would mean that cities and their infrastructure would become controlled by Red Army. That means that destruction of any city infrastructure would be a key NATO priority. This would have to be done in a way that would be quick enough to inflict necessary damage before Red army was in the cities to avoid NATO vs Warsaw Pact war. That means using tactical nuclear weapons.

The article seems pretty clear that targeting of normal city infrastructure was not part of the plan. Only infrastructure of military value: bridges, airfields, ports, etc. Certainly some civilians may be close to these. However the use of tactical nuclear weapons, weapons of low yield, suggests that civilians were in fact considered. If there were truly no consideration of civilians or the desire to destroy all city infrastructure then strategic nuclear weapons, the high yield city killers, would have been selected. And as the author concedes, identified targets were not necessarily even going to be hit with nukes.

With respect to avoiding Red Army casualties, again that seems contrary to the article. The article indicates nukes were unlikely to be used unless the US was facing an imminent attack or had been attacked. A desire to limit Red Army casualties makes no sense in this context. Plus the plan refers to strikes on infrastructure that was "about to" or "had been" captured, that does not suggest a Red Army at a safe distance.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45691273)

As noted initially the article in question is written for a US essay competition. As a result, it dodges the nastier parts about NATO quite nicely.

Realities of the Cold War on the other hand were pretty clear. NATO and Warsaw Pact avoided direct conflict with one another at all costs, to the point of claiming that their people dying in proxy wars were actually "vietnamese", "koreans", "afghan" or "free agents" and so on. If you wish to look to see how little NATO cared about civilians during cold war, Vietnam and Indonesia would be good places to start.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45692791)

As noted initially the article in question is written for a US essay competition. As a result, it dodges the nastier parts about NATO quite nicely.

That is a gratuitous assumption. I grew up in the cold war. The evil uncaring nature of the "other" side was always grossly exaggerated. I expect that NATO was exaggerated by politicians to help promote the neutral stance of the country. Note that the Finish military, those in the best position to evaluate NATO, seemed to be some of the more pro-NATO folks in the country.

Realities of the Cold War on the other hand were pretty clear. NATO and Warsaw Pact avoided direct conflict with one another at all costs, to the point of claiming that their people dying in proxy wars ...

The situation in Finland seems about as far from a proxy war as there can be. No internal conflict with pro-NATO and pro-Warsaw pact factions willing to battle it out. **Everything** written about the spying and planning is in the context of a WW3 style mass invasions of the west by the east or nuclear exchange between the west and east. This proxy war notion just does not make sense.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45693459)

No offense, but we were the poster child for Cold War proxy war site. We were playing both sides, and both sides were actively playing on our territory. Our companies like Nokia were used to both build up telephony infrastructure for USSR as well as spy on it by US (a fairly known scandal that popped up recently, where US required Nokia to insert various spying tools into telephony network elements it build for USSR or otherwise face crippling sanctions). The only reasons we didn't was because we successfully played both sides against one another while visibly surrendering to demands of USSR on the surface, and because both sides viewed it as beneficial that there was a country with such a strong independence drive and such a deep willingness to bow when necessary, allowing for many delicated NATO-WP negotiations to take place in it.

Germans even invented term Finnlandisierung (becoming like Finland) as a scary term to explain what country becomes when it effectively surrenders all but its de jure independence. It used it as a comparison to DDR.

Due to sheer strategic importance of the country, even one wrong step would have almost immediately forced Russians to act. Which would have forced NATO to counteract. Which meant that politicians had to act to safeguard as much of their people as possible for the fight that would come after Russian tanks and NATO nukes.

Hence, the law to have a bomb shelter in every house and large bomb shelters in every large city.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45697337)

No offense, but we were the poster child for Cold War proxy war site. We were playing both sides, and both sides were actively playing on our territory.

Who were the Finnish proxies that were fighting or willing to fight? It seems to be more of a NATO v WP fight on Finnish soil. That is something very different.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45700519)

We had our white vs red civil war. Whites won, but a whole lot of reds lived through it and stayed in the country. This in turn helped to ensure that we always had a "pro soviet" wing and "pro nato" wing, to the point where soviets created a fake government out of reds that left for USSR during winter war.

Management of these forces was one of the balancing acts needed in finnish politics for decades.

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45700977)

Were the tensions still bad enough in the 50s or 60s that the civil war might renew?

Re:Finland is not exactly pro Russian ... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45701531)

Not when held under wraps obviously. But as seen in modern conflicts of Libya and Syria, even a small amount of tension can explode when sufficiently fed from outside. In Syria, all it took was drought that led the hardcore conservative farmers to start protesting, which pushed the small snowball that eventually became an avalanche of civil war, managing to go through phases that didn't resemble one another at all, like the much publicized youth protests, and much less publicized like takeovers of key infrastructure early on.

Re:It's about Russia, Sweden & the US (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 9 months ago | (#45672497)

To be specific, most of the Russian traffic comes from Moscow and St. Petersburg, which if you look at the map are located fairly close to Finland which is not a "hostile NATO state" like most of the Eastern Europe is today.

The problem is that Finland has no other links to Central Europe except for one going through Sweden at the moment, and Sweden has openly become US/NATO bitch in recent past. Russian biggest search company Yandex is one of the big investors in this submarine cable. It's pretty much connect the dots on this one.

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