Finland sees a familiar pattern in the Georgian conflict…

Update: 29 November – thanks to “Crna Strela” from the International Camouflage Uniform Society, I’ve got a couple more photos of this Russian camo.  One is a commercial-made suit that was offered on eBay a while back, and the other shows a Russian soldier wearing the uniform during the Georgian conflict.  Photos posted at the bottom of the article below.  Enjoy.


By ELLEN BARRY – NY Times website:

Published: November 20, 2008

MOSCOW — One of the stranger questions to emerge after the August conflict between Russia and Georgia: Did Russians go to war in camouflage filched from Finland?

That, anyway, is the theory circulating among Finnish commentators, who have been examining such fine points of camouflage design as outline irregularity and light-to-medium-green ratios. Using photographs taken in Georgia, Finnish authorities are trying to determine whether Russian armed forces are wearing M/05, a pattern that is based on digital photographs of Finnish forests and that is legally protected in the European Union.

The authorities in Finland looked into the similarities this month, and they decided not to take the matter up with Moscow, said Capt. Eero Karhuvaara, a spokesman for the Defense Staff of Finland, particularly as the legal protection does not extend to Russia. But the chatter has continued in newspapers anyway, and not because the Finns have a special attachment to camouflage.

“We’re neighbors,” Captain Karhuvaara said. “And Russia is Russia.”

Word of the inquiry reached Moscow this week, prompting sardonic coverage in several city newspapers. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of the Interior flatly denied copying the Finnish pattern.

“None of us uses the M/05 camouflage for their uniforms,” the ministry spokesman said in a statement to Komsomolskaya Pravda, a daily newspaper. “No one wears it. Our quartermasters haven’t heard of it. It seems that the Finns simply wanted to publicize their product and came up with this story. This false story.”

Dmitri Y. Rybakov, whose company supplies the Russian Army, was displaying his products for government buyers on Wednesday at a Moscow exhibition hall. Young women stood around in camouflage halter tops and hot pants, and an acrobat was doing back flips on strips of camouflage overhead to show its durability.

“We have 100 different kinds of camouflage,” said Mr. Rybakov, assistant director of Chaikovsky Textile. “Why would we take the Finns’?”

Over the last decade, as the world’s militaries switched over to camouflage based on digital images, it has become standard for countries to protect their patterns — though manufacturers in China have been known to pirate them and sell them commercially. The M/05 took years to create, Captain Karhuvaara said. Finland barred reservists from using it and filed for design protection within the European Union, he said.

This fall, word reached Petri Korhonen, a reporter for Taloussanomat, a business news Web site, that M/05 look-alikes were popping up in the Georgian conflict zone. After Mr. Korhonen wrote about the matter, the Finnish Defense Forces began an inquiry. But it turned out to be difficult to proceed from there.

The Russians use a profusion of different uniforms, especially in special forces units, and Finnish officials found differences between their uniforms and the Russian ones. “The colors and the shapes are the same, more or less, but the way the dress is cut is different,” said Jyrki Iivonen, director for public policy at the Ministry of Defense of Finland.

Since then, Finnish officials have been waiting for the matter to fade away. “In Finland, people always get excited when they are talking about Russia,” Mr. Iivonen noted. Finland was absorbed into the Russian empire for most of the 19th century and fought two wars against the Soviet Union during World War II.

Today, the two countries share a quiet 800-mile border. Asked whether Finnish authorities were concerned about distinguishing their troops from Russians on the battlefield, Captain Karhuvaara noted that the uniforms under scrutiny belong to troops in the Russian Ministry of the Interior, which oversees police forces inside Russia. “If Russian Ministry of the Interior troops would invade Finland,” he said, “we would have big trouble.”

Finnish soldier wearing M/05 pattern camouflage

Finnish soldier wearing M/05 pattern camouflage


Unidentified Russian digital camouflage pattern

Unidentified Russian digital camouflage pattern

 m47_01_11eBay suit…

russian-m05-copy1 Russian troops in Georgia. Soldier at extreme left is wearing the M/05 “copy”

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