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Military drills held across Finland this weekend as Nato warships visit Helsinki

The Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) warn that the use of dummy drill ammunition as well as military aircraft and helicopters may cause noise disturbances in certain areas.

A Finnish soldier standing in the upper hatch of an armoured vehicle surrounded by clouds of dust on a sandy road covered with pinecones, surrounded by trees. Photo from Santahamina island in Helsinki, June 2022.
File photo of a military drill involving troops from the Finnish Defence Forces held in the summer of 2022. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle
Yle News

A series of military drills and exercises are scheduled to take place across Finland and in Finnish waters this weekend, beginning on Friday.

Troops will be on the move around the capital region as well as in the eastern Uusimaa region, Kouvola, Luumäki, along the coastline and at sea in the Gulf of Finland.

Thousands of soldiers will take part in the exercises, as well as a variety of military vehicles, aircraft and helicopters. In the capital region and eastern Uusimaa, troops will be equipped with combat gear, including assault rifles, while some may also be wearing civilian clothes.

"Exercising in an extensive area allows the units to conduct training in situations that enable them to apply their competence and skills for operating outside built-up areas," according to an FDF statement.

The exercises taking place in the Kouvola, Luumäki and Hamina areas will alone involve an estimated 7,000 people and 720 vehicles. US soldiers are also taking part in the drills in these areas.

In a press release, Karelian Brigade commander Jyri Raitasalo, who is leading the exercise, welcomed the participation of the US ground forces.

"For many of the conscripts participating in the exercise, this is the final exercise of their training, and it is great that they get to test their skills in joint operations with coalition forces. The preparation work for the exercise has been in the making for some time, and now we are entering the implementation phase," Raitasalo said.

US Marines in the Gulf of Finland

The Sapeli 23 field training exercise, led by the Guard Jaeger Regiment, will also begin on Friday and continue throughout the next week in the capital region and in eastern Uusimaa.

The drill areas will include Helsinki, Vantaa, Porvoo, Järvenpää, Sipoo, Tuusula, Loviisa and Pornainen.

In addition to the regiment, troops from the Armoured Brigade and the Finnish Border Guard will participate in the exercise, bringing the total number of troops to 800.

Meanwhile, the Atrain 23 naval exercise led by the Coastal Brigade will be held from Friday 26 May until Friday 2 June around the coast of the Gulf of Finland and the sea areas between the Hanko Peninsula and Hamina, including maritime districts near the capital.

In addition to the Finnish Navy, the exercise will also involve troops from the Finnish Air Force, Border Guard and Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command. A Low Altitude Air Defense Detachment from the US Marine Corps will also train alongside the Finnish units.

In a press release, the FDF Logistics Command warned that the exercises will create noise throughout the day and even into the night as they involve shooting as well as flying aircraft.

"Dummy drill ammunition will be used in part of the exercise areas that may in turn cause noise in the immediate vicinity," the statement said.

Nato warships visit Helsinki

This weekend will also see three Nato warships arriving in Helsinki.

The visit is part of Nato's planned activities in the Baltic Sea, the Finnish Navy said.

Harmaa sotalaiva liikkuu rannikon tuntumassa auringonlaskun aikaan.
The HNoMS Nordkapp is a 100-metre-long former patrol ship of the Norwegian Coast Guard. Image: AOP / Fraser Gray

Nato ships usually specialise in mine clearance as well as maritime traffic protection and maritime surveillance. The contingent's flagship is the Norwegian ship HNoMS Nordkapp and is similar in size to Finland's new Nordic class ships.

In addition to the Nordkapp, the FGS Rottweil from Germany and the French vessel FS Pegase will also dock in Helsinki on Saturday.

The ships are scheduled to participate in the alliance's large-scale BALTOPS 23 exercise in the Baltic Sea, an annual military exercise held in the region since 1971.

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