Timo Kivinen, 59, formally began his five-year tenure as the commander of the Finnish Defence Forces on Thursday.
A decorated military official who has served as a military attaché in Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, Kivinen is fairly unknown among the general public as he neither was considered one of the frontrunners for the position nor is he an active tweeter like his predecessor, Jarmo Lindberg.
His tenure is intriguing particularly due to the looming, up to 10-billion-euro acquisition of new fighter jets for the Finnish Air Force. The Finnish Armed Forces is set to ask the supplier candidates to present their more detailed bids, while the final investment decision will be made by the Parliament by 2022.
Kivinen on Thursday estimated in a press conference that the historic acquisition is likely to be the single largest issue of his newly started tenure.
“We have a project dedicated for the practical preparations. The command will naturally be briefed regularly on where it’s at, and we may introduce further requirements to certain stages of the process. But after the bids have been received and analysed, it’ll culminate in us formulating a military position on the issue,” he replied to Uusi Suomi.
The Finnish Defence Forces, he also confirmed, will continue to expand its defence co-operation with western countries in the coming years.
“We’re presently in military-level talks with our Swedish colleagues about what the next step should be. The government programme notes that [the co-operation] will become closer. After we’ve analysed the situation, we’ll present proposals that are similar in content and nature to both countries. We’re not yet at a point where I could shed more light on this,” said Kivinen.