Finland Appoints New ‘Hybrid Ambassador’

Foreign Minister Timo Soini says new ambassador position will help Finland respond to hybrid threats.

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Cyber security composite picture / Credit: Pixabay

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appointed the country’s first ‘Hybrid Ambassador’.

Diplomat Mikko Kinnunen. He will focus on international cyber security cooperation, as well as areas like foreign and security policy; legal and commercial matters; and strategic communications.

In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the new ambassador will build up expertise in hybrid issues, and help raise Finland’s profile internationally.

“In practice [hybrid issues] can be linked with any or all of the activities that the Ministry and its missions abroad are engaged in” says Kinnunen.

What Is Hybrid War? 

Hybrid warfare and the use of influence-seeking hybrid methods have attracted wide attention both in Finland and internationally. Finland has been a target of hybrid attacks and activities, and it has strengthened its capacity to detect and respond to hybrid threats.

“Hybrid methods are a new way of seeking to influence our security, and we must respond to these effectively,” says Foreign Minister Minister Timo Soini.

There’s no defined list of what can be considered hybrid tactics, but in the context of 2018, these examples might seem familiar:

  • Fake news stories, disguised to look like they’ve been published by legitimate news organisations;
  • Efforts to try and influence elections by buying advertising on social media;
  • Fake social media profiles that specifically push one agenda to try and create confusion and division.

“It was the Soviets and also nowadays the Russians’ strategic culture to foresee these converging technological developments and their strategic implications” Pasi Eronen from the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defence of Democracies previously told News Now Finland

“The kind of technological advances we have seen now, all the social media platforms, APIs, it might be so that it was not us who developed the technology, who deployed it, who made it available […] but we didn’t fully understand its strategic potential for nation states to push forward their agenda” Eronen said.

Last autumn the new European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats opened in Helsinki.