At about 3 A.M. local time last Tuesday, ships of the Finnish Navy dropped depth charges into the waters near Helsinki in the vicinity of what has been reported to be a possible Russian submarine. The Finns initially refused to confirm that this “possible underwater object” was in fact a submarine, let alone a Russian submarine, and a spokesman was later quick to emphasize that the depth charges were “not intended to damage the target,” but to “let the target know that it has been noticed.”
Depth charges will do that. This drama has coincided with an effort on the part of the Finnish military—apparently unprecedented in recent history—to improve the readiness of its reserve force, the main element for which will be letters sent to 900,000 reservists this month “informing them which post they would be given in a crisis situation,” and asking them for “up-to-date details of their whereabouts.”
Nothing to worry about, though; an abundance of caution. Never mind that the Russian incursions have been taking place around the world, including in Ireland and elsewhere. And then there’s that little ongoing unpleasantness in the Ukraine.
The submarine incident took place in the Gulf of Finland, a narrow body of water with St. Petersburg at its eastern extremity, with Finland along its northern bank, and Estonia on its southern shore. Last year, an Estonian security official, Eston Kohver, was kidnapped by Russian agents along that country’s border with Russia (on the Estonian side of the border) a few days after President Obama visited that country. Kohver is still being held in Russia, where he has been charged with espionage. A Russian information war relentlessly targets Russian-speaking citizens of the Baltic States, and provides the ideological justification for military action against those countries. Russian bombers rehearse nuclear strikes off the coasts of NATO members. To utter the old cliché that “tensions are high in the region” is to make a comical understatement.
I’m sure Obama and Marie Harf are on the case, though. “Flexibility,” you know.