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Finland to host major international military exercises in 2021

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö first proposed the idea last autumn, drawing criticism for doing so publicly before discussing it with the president or other ministers.

Maavoimien vaikuttamisharjoitus Rovajärven ampuma-alueella Rovaniemellä
Service members engaged in winter war games. Image: Jouni Porsanger / Lehtikuva
Wif Stenger

Finland will host major international military exercises in 2021. The decision was made on Friday as President Sauli Niinistö met with the government’s Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.

The aim of the exercises is to strengthen Finland’s defence preparedness and to practice receiving international assistance and cooperative capabilities.

The plan has been discussed since last autumn, when it was first brought up by Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (no relation). At the time he was rebuked for floating the idea before discussing it with others including the president – who under the constitution is in charge of foreign and security policy.

Jussi Niinistö says that the 2021 military exercise could be similar to the Aurora 17 war games arranged by neighbouring Sweden last year.

Finland took part in that operation, which involved some 19,000 soldiers, sailors, air force staff and others from nine countries, including the United States. They were all NATO member states except Finland and Sweden, which are “enhanced members” of the alliance’s Partnership for Peace programme.

The Finnish defence minister says that Sweden has already agreed to participate in the 2021 event.

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