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Finland proposes joint exercises with US

09 November 2017

Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö has suggested that military exercises with Sweden to be hosted by Finland in 2020 or 2021 include the United States. He made this offer at a first joint tripartite meeting attended by Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and US Defense Secretary James Mattis on 7 November.

Finnish troops participating in exercise 'Aurora 2017' in Sweden in September. (Finnish Defence Force)Finnish troops participating in exercise 'Aurora 2017' in Sweden in September. (Finnish Defence Force)

“Mattis commented positively on the matter, saying that we should have exercises,” Niinistö told reporters in Helsinki on 7 November. “But of course they also have their own exercises programme and they need to be reconciled. We see the US presence in the Baltic area and the rest of Europe as a stabilising factor.”

However, Mattis did not accept the invitation outright.

The minister’s decision comes less than two months after Russia's huge ‘Zapad 2017’ military exercises with neighbour Belarus on 14–20 September, involving up to 100,000 military and associated personnel.

In parallel, Sweden held ‘Aurora 17’ on 11–29 September with 19,000 troops. Participants included Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, France, Denmark, and the US, in addition to 300 solders and two NH90 helicopters from Finland.

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