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YLE: Russia planned campaign to disrupt accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO

Proposed protest activities included anti-Türkish and anti-Erdogan demonstrations in major cities around Europe.
Credit: nato.int

Russia’s intelligence planned a campaign to destabilize Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession, including organizing protests, Finnish media outlet YEL reports, citing leaked Russian intelligence documents.

The plans aimed to increase discord between Türkiye and other NATO countries, especially Sweden, YEL reports. Proposed protest activities included anti-Türkish and anti-Erdogan demonstrations in major cities around Europe.

It is reported that Russia attempted to escalate tensions following a series of Quran burnings in public in Sweden at the beginning of 2023, which sparked demonstrations across the Muslim world.

Finland’s security police confirmed knowing of Russia’s plans to stir up protests in Finland. But there was no evidence such plans were implemented in Finland, YEL says. Some planned protests did occur elsewhere in Europe, according to the intelligence report.

The plan came to light through a memorandum drafted by a Russian intelligence officer, which was subsequently leaked to the Russian Investigative Center Dossier.

Finland joined NATO on 4 April. Sweden is still awaiting ratification from Türkiye and Hungary.

Türkish President Erdogan sent Sweden’s bid to Türkiye’s parliament in October. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg then said Sweden would likely join by the end of November. After November talks, Sweden’s foreign minister cited “a few weeks” as an estimated date for the country’s accession to the Alliance.

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