Agency: Joining NATO Makes Finland Target for Russian Ops

HELSINKI (AP) -- Finland's future NATO membership will make the Nordic country a more interesting target for Russian intelligence and influencing operations, and Moscow may seek to acquire NATO-related intelligence through its neighbor, the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service said on Thursday.

In its national security review, the agency known by the abbreviation SUPO said that Russia has turned to the cyber environment and other intelligence sources, including foreigners living in Russia, as it is facing obstacles with its human intelligence operations in the West.

"The main intelligence gathering approach traditionally applied by the Russian intelligence services is human intelligence under diplomatic cover," SUPO said. "This has become substantially more difficult since Russia launched its war of aggression in Ukraine, as many Russian diplomats have been expelled from the West."

The agency said the Russian security and intelligence services are increasingly targeting foreigners who reside in or visit Russia. Russians working in the West may also be a target of intelligence gathering when visiting their home country, it said.

The threat of corporate espionage by Russia is also increasing as sanctions set by the West on Russia necessitate Moscow's launch of high-technology manufacturing to replace imports, the agency said. It added that "this places a particular premium on data security in Finnish businesses".

Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, applied for membership in NATO together with Sweden in May. It shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia, the longest of any European Union member.