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Helsinki to Host EU-NATO 'Hybrid Threat' Center

© Flickr / JonathanHelsinki Skyline
Helsinki Skyline - Sputnik International
The Finnish capital city Helsinki has been chosen to host an EU and NATO joint center for combatting so-called "hybrid threats." The center, to which eleven countries are expected to contribute, will start operating this autumn.

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Finland is one of 11 countries collaborating to establish a joint center to combat hybrid warfare threats. The center will be located in Helsinki and will feature cooperation from the US and EU members Germany, Spain, the UK, Sweden, Poland and the Baltic States and is seen as an important symbol of the EU's and NATO's desire to increase practical cooperation, Swedish Radio reported.

"Hybrid warfare" is a vague term that has been nevertheless gaining momentum in recent years. Most often it is used in reference to a combination of traditional military threats and civilian security threats. Popular examples thereof include dissemination of disinformation or fake news via social media, cyberattacks on IT systems or the use of anonymous troops commonly dubbed "little green men." Hybrid warfare is commonly believed to be less disruptive than traditional warfare, yet aims to specifically target a country's weaknesses and sow insecurity.

Last year, when plans of establishing such a center in Helsinki were first voiced, the deputy secretary of state responsible for EU affairs, Jori Arvonen, said that cyber warfare threats were escalating and shifting and identified Russia and Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) as having a hybrid influence in the Nordic country.

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Accordingly, the aim of the Helsinki hybrid center, which has been in the works since last year, will be to increase EU members' awareness of and resistance to hybrid threats and their ability to combat them, as well as identify the actors behind them. Another goal is to enhance cooperation with NATO organs specializing in countering hybrid warfare threats.

The Helsinki Hybrid Threat Center has been allocated an annual budget of about €2mln ($2.1mln) and will begin operations in September 2017. All participating countries will pay an annual membership fee, but Finland, as the host country, is expected to contribute the lion's share of the budget. At present, a working group led by Matti Saarelainen of the Finnish Security Police is actively planning its work.

The Helsinki Center is expected to come as a complement to Stratcom's centers in Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia, which are undisguised NATO outposts in the battle against the "Russian threat." Additionally, NATO has dozens of other cells that specialize in different kinds of threats in member countries, such as its Arctic Skills Center in Norway.


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