Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Fewer people want to go to war for Finland after NATO membership

The new cold war

Published 11 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The fact that many reservists choose to apply for civilian service is said to jeopardize Finland's defense capability.

Already when the war in Ukraine broke out and Finland submitted its NATO application, many Finnish reservists contacted the Conscientious Objectors Association (Vapenvägrarförbundet) to apply for transfer to civilian service.

Following the recent announcement by Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen that he wants to end the possibility of leaving the defense reserve, hundreds of new applications have been received.

According to analysts, the war in Ukraine and Finland’s NATO membership have led to a deteriorating national security situation, and the Finnish Ministry of Defence (Puolustusministeriö) is concerned that an increasing number of reservists want to leave the armed forces for civilian service.

Yle reports that the defense minister now wants to change the rules and prevent the possibility of “opting out” of the military, a view shared by the armed forces.

Currently, reservists can apply for civilian service on the basis of their personal convictions and undergo a five-day training course. Once this has begun, there is no need to return to the reserves.

According to the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten), it is the “changing security situation” that has prompted a review of the legislation, claiming that citizens who leave the reserve risk endangering the country’s defense capability.

“Reservists currently have the legal right to apply for additional service. However, there is reason to examine this right so that defense capabilities are not compromised in a critical situation”, it said.

675 applications in five days

They also point out that universal conscription is “the cornerstone of Finland’s defense” – and that changes should not be made lightly.

Since the announcement, hundreds of new applications to transfer to civilian service have been received. Applications for additional service are often made through a website run by the Finnish Conscientious Objectors Association, and the association’s coordinator, Aku Kervinen, confirms that they have seen an increase in interest recently.

– Many people reconsidered their convictions and contacted the association when the war in Ukraine broke out in February 2022, when Finland applied to join NATO in May of the same year, and when NATO membership became a reality in April 2023. At that time, 20-30 questions a day could be received.

In the first five days of February alone, the Civilian Service Center received 675 applications, compared to 1,650 in 2023 and 3,800 in 2022. The reserve of the defense forces consists of about 870,000 soldiers who have completed their military service and are classified as conscripts.


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