Finland and USA exchanged military intelligence during Cold War
US told Finland of Soviet troop movements, Finland gave details of Soviet weapons it had bought
Finland and the United States were involved in highly secret military cooperation during the Cold War which was much more extensive than previously thought.
New information about the intelligence sharing came out in a current affairs programme on YLE TV1 on Friday, and in a separate documentary shown on the same channel on Sunday.
According to the television programmes, US military intelligence provided Finland with information on the Soviet Army and the Warsaw Pact. Finland was also given detailed information about the Kola Peninsula, as well as the forces of the Leningrad Military District, and their weaponry.
The US also provided Finland with equipment for communications and electronic warfare, as well as know-how.
The US also helped Finland monitor traffic in the Gulf of Finland, including the movements of Soviet submarines near Finnish waters.
Finland was helped by US experts in evaluating intelligence data that it had gathered. At that time the Finnish Defence Forces did not have the expertise to interpret all intercepted messages. A comparison of the Finnish intelligence with the information gathered by the United States from around the world helped reveal the secrets.
In the interview, General Jaakko Valtanen said: "The interest of the United States in Finland and Finnish policy was prompted by our military and geographic position - our strategic position as the neighbour of the Soviet Union."
The cooperation worked both ways, Finland providing the United States with confidential information on the numbers of Soviet weapons it bought, and the applications of the weapons. The USA was also informed of Finland’s defence priorities, and where Finland’s various weapons systems were to be deployed in wartime.
According to the programme, the cooperation was kept strictly confidential; only the commander of the Finnish Defence Forces and his closest inner circle knew about it.
Even Finland’s political leaders at the time were probably not aware of the extent of the cooperation.
According to the programme, the architect of the cooperation was General Lauri Sutela, who nevertheless put a stop to the cooperation out of fear that it might be made public.
The exposure of secret military cooperation with the United States would probably have led to serious difficulties in the sensitive relations between Finland and the Soviet Union.