Russia's attack on Ukraine seems to have prompted a growing number of Finns to sign up for emergency preparedness courses, with sessions offered by the National Defence Training Association (MPK) filling up at an unprecedented pace.
Normally, this time of the year, around 150 people typically register for training, but in recent days the numbers have reached around 700 and the rate of sign-ups seems to be accelerating, according to Miia Iivari, the association's communications chief.
"The numbers clearly increased since last Thursday," Iivari said. That was the same day that Russia's deadly attacks on Ukraine began.
The association offers more than 2,000 different courses every year, with some of the training aimed at military reservists, while its other courses are open to civilians.
The most popular courses deal with the use of firearms, with more of such courses being offered due to the rising demand.
Meanwhile, the so-called Nasta courses, offered by the Women’s National Emergency Preparedness Association, are also increasingly popular. Out of the first five training courses offered by the group this spring, four were fully-booked within minutes, according to Sonja Airikka, the head of this season's Nasta sessions.
There seems to be an increasing interest in national defence and preparedness in Finland this year, particularly in recent days as tensions between Russia and the West grew.
The Finnish Reservists’ Association (FRA) announced on Monday that it had received an exceptional number of new membership applications in January and February. The group said that it had received around 1,230 new applications during that time, or around double the amount during the same period last year.