Inside the air-raid shelter of Helsinki– the world’s most protected play area|World News

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    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Revealed: The Secrets our Clients Used to Earn $3 Billion

    Deep listed below Helsinki’s streets, stretching shelters depend on case of emergency situation (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Walking through the Hakaniemi district in main Helsinki, I pass numerous posters marketing a presentation in the primary square to mark 2 years because the Russian intrusion into Ukraine.

    February 24, 2022 was the start of the very first significant dispute on European soil because the World War II.

    But for Finland, February 24 has a various significance.

    ‘We have never forgotten these things, due to our history – we have always found preparation to be very important,’ Daniel Backstr öm, 49, a volunteer lead for the Finnish Civil Defence informs me.

    Mr Backstr öm and I are speaking almost 70 ft down in a shelter integrated in strong bedrock, on the 80 th anniversary of the Helsinki battles in 1944.

    He and a group of civil defence volunteers are giving out brochures about emergency situation preparation, ideas for safeguarding and a mock paper brochure stating the occasions of 1944.

    Eight years prior, the Soviet Union started battle cities throughout Finland in an effort to press the nation into peace settlements. The attacks throughout the month of February 1944 eliminated hundreds and the occurrence was burnt into the minds of Finns permanently.

    The aftermath of a Russian air raid on Helsinki during World War II, February 1944. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    Cities throughout Finland were bombed throughout the February attacks (Picture: Hulton Archive)

    World War II, Finland. Bombing of Helsinki by the Russians. Block of flats in flames after a direct hit. (Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

    The battles eliminated hundreds– and altered Finland’s frame of mind permanently (Picture: Getty)

    While the majority of the world was surprised by the news of Russia’s intrusion, Finland wasn’t. The Nordic nation had actually never ever stopped developing shelters and moneying their defence forces in case of an occasion like that in Ukraine.

    Conscription is still obligatory for every single guy inFinland Every property structure is needed to have a practical shelter for emergency situations, like the one Mr Backstr öm and I are presently standing in.

    Mr Backstr öm works as a forensic laboratory service technician, however is a lead volunteer for the Finnish Civil Defence, where he assists train other civilians to assistant in case of an emergency situation.

    He chose to sign up with the Civil Defence after the Russian intrusion into Ukraine: ‘My wife and I thought as we are not useful on the front, maybe we could do something with the civilian defence.’

    The shelter we are standing in is huge: constructed to hold 6,000 individuals in case of war, nationwide emergency situation or other catastrophes– however it does not seem like a normal shelter.

    Much of the location is filled with leisure sport courts, and down one hall there is a kids’s play park and food court.

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Daniel Backstr öm is a volunteer lead for the civil defence forces (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Much of the shelter location is utilized for leisure (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Basketball courts, play areas and a snack bar lie underground (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    The ‘most secure playground in the world’



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    Tomi Rask is a readiness instructor with the Helsinki City Rescue Department, and strolls me around the stretching underground shelter. We pass numerous big metal doors, constructed to stay out harmful chemical weapons and secure from nuclear blasts.

    Pointing to his left, Mr Rask states: ‘The areas are also used for recreation – we haven’ t had a war for over 80 years, so it’s smart.

    ‘These premises are for hard conditions, such as flooding, storms, electric power cuts, water cuts, war and different types of emergencies. Luckily, we haven’ t had them.’

    Mr Rask unlocks to another wing of the shelter, where we’re met the noises of kids screeching in a neighboring backyard– called ‘Leikkiluola’, which equates to ‘cave for playing’.

    A food court sits beside the backyard– these services who run in the shelters are needed to abandon the properties in 72 hours in case of emergency situation, Mr Rask informs me.

    ‘One of the American delegates used to say that this is probably the world’ s most protected play area worldwide,’ Mr Rask chuckles. ‘She is not wrong.’

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Deep listed below the city streets, a play ground beings in the city shelter (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    In case of emergency situation, just stairs will be utilized (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Inside the bomb shelters of Helsinki - and why Finland has SO many of them

    Massive doors sit open, all set for usage in case of an emergency situation (Picture: Sarah Hooper)

    Mr Rask and I take a seat in the food court as the noise of kids playing echoes off the concrete walls.

    He sighs: ‘We have had our differences with our neighbour. We know what they can do. We’ ve existed. We have actually done that. We understand it is possible.’

    On every very first Monday of the month, the city’s emergency situation sirens are evaluated– an old system, which has actually had problems in the past, Mr Rask states.

    ‘In the case of the first Monday in March 2022 after the Russian invasion, the drill didn’ t go so well,’ he states. ‘We had a lot of and lots of public comments and public questions for the system. ”Why didn’ t I hear it? I heard it, should I do something?”

    ‘After the invasion, people’ s interest in civil defence matters considerably increased. But Finland never ever stopped being prepared or developing shelters. We didn’t stop throughout peace time due to the fact that you do not understand when you’ll require them. We didn’t stop conscription.

    ‘Most of the European nations believed that there would never ever be a war in Europe once again, however we in Finland have actually constantly prepared ahead– 20, 50 years– whatever is for the future and generations.

    ‘Securing and sheltering people is a hard task. But we need to persevere. We need to do things that seem like they’ re unworthy doing.’

    No warranty of security

    KYIV,UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 25: A view of bomb damage to a fa??ade of a ten-storey building on February 25,2022 in the Kharkivsky district of Kiev, Ukraine . Yesterday, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with Russian troops invading the country from the north, east and south, accompanied by air strikes and shelling. The Ukrainian president said that at least 137 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by the end of the first day. (Photo by Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images)

    Kyiv was woken up by surges and strikes on the early morning of February 24, 2022 (Picture: Getty)

    (Original Caption) Helsinki, Finland: In this exclusive INP received in the U.S. via a neutral country, the ruins of a large Helsinki apartment building bears mute evidence of the fierce aerial bombardment inflicted on the Finnish city by the Russian airmen. This bombardment, the first in over a year, was part of the intensified drive by the Russians to knock the Finns out of the war.

    Finns were woken up to a comparable attack by Soviet forces on February 24, 1944 (Picture: Bettman Archive)

    Mr Backstr öm states there are 2 groups of believed in Finland: some who believe the danger of war is more important in the eastern part of the nation, then the other half, who understand that the danger from Russia is genuine and can take place.

    He included: ‘We need to consider after the Second World War that this has actually been the most serene period inEurope But unfortunately we as humans, we never ever gain from history, we are destined duplicate it.

    ‘We were attacked in 39 and 44 and we know that there is never any guarantee that it will not happen again. That’ s why we do this and why we have actually kept these shelters for all of these years.’

    After my trip of the defence shelter, I take the elevator back to the street and stroll to satisfy Joel Linnainm äki, a research study fellow at the Finnish Institute of National Affairs.

    Mr Linnainm äki comes from the eastern part of Finland, a town simply 25 miles from the Russian border.

    Prior to the Russian intrusion into Ukraine, more than 1 million visas were given annual to Russians going to Finland, offering an essential financial increase to the area.

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    The Finnish consulate has actually shut its doors in Russia after the intrusion (Picture: AFP)

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    The formerly hectic border into Finland from Russia is now closed down (Picture: AFP)

    Finns would typically cross the Russian border to purchase more affordable gas, cigarettes or groceries– something that is difficult now.

    Two years on from the intrusion, all border indicate Russia are closed and the Finnish consulate in St Petersburg has actually shut its doors.

    ‘The full scale invasion of Ukraine touched a historical nerve that Finns had regarding the Soviet Union and Russians during the Second World War,’ Mr Linnainm äki informs me as we drink our coffee.

    ‘It was simple for average Finnish individuals to see that if Russia might do these sort of atrocities towards Ukraine, they may do that here also.

    ‘The thinking in Helsinki was, “What are we going to do if Kyiv falls? Or if the Russians are emboldened and they will try something else, whether it’s in Moldova or Georgia or on the Baltic Sea?” This was the primary factor, in my viewpoint, that we got NATO subscription.’

    NATO cohesion in the face of Russian risks

     Nato members pledged to spend 2% of their GDP on defence each year (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Nato members promised to invest 2% of their GDP on defence each year (Picture:Metro co.uk)

    There is an old Soviet stating: ‘Doveryai, no proveryai’, significance ‘Trust, but verify’.

    The stating rhymes in Russian, and shows the concept that while it’s crucial to believe in somebody or something– it is similarly crucial to validate the fact behind what they are stating or doing.

    Mr Linnainm äki states: ‘In Finland, there is no trust towardsRussia “Trust but verify” utilized to be our mindset– we had a useful relationship, however there was never ever total trust at any point.

    ‘This is why we never ever stopped preparing for other situations. We never ever diminished our defence spending plan, we kept our conscription design even when it ended up being rather out-of-date in Europe.

    ‘We gotten ready for other situations than the delighted ending with a “democratic Russia” that numerous European nations were wishing for. Many individuals in Finland were wishing for this also, however it never ever occurred in the end.’

    Mr Linnainm äki referenced the current map revealing NATO defence costs– mentioning that the nations surrounding Russia all satisfied or went beyond the 2% minimum defence requirements.

    ‘This shows that threat perception is related to proximity and geography. It’ s reasonable that Portugal, for example, does not have the exact same kind of danger there. But this is a concern for NATO’s cohesion.’

    ‘Not if, but when’

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    Finland’s borders with Russia have actually been closed after a big increase of refugees (Picture: AFP)

    Mentioning Finland’s eastern neighbour is done so in whispers– as though discussing the capacity of additional Russian aggressiveness makes it more genuine.

    Last fall, Finland saw an increase of border attacks from Russia, something which Mr Linnainm äki states is Russia ‘testing’ Finland’s action.

    He discusses: ‘The border incursions are a very cheap and easy way for them to show that they can try to influence us and try to cause problems for us if we don’ t take their interests into account.’

    Having a neighbour like Russia features its difficulties– however Finland is gotten ready for any circumstance.

    Every property structure is needed by law to have a shelter like the one I visited in the Hakaniemi district. Interest in civil defence has actually increased considerably because the Russian intrusion into Ukraine.

    Mr Linnainm äki speaks on behalf of a country which is all too knowledgeable about the danger from Russia: ‘We need to uphold the common understanding that Russia is a threat for the long term.’

    Get in touch with our news group by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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