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Finnish Defence Minister: "Western countries have taken the bait" over Russia's Zapad exercises

Finland's military is taking part in Sweden's Aurora 2017 military exercises, which simulate an attack on the Nordic country and the response of forces from nine countries. The exercises coincide with the Zapad 2017 war games Russia and Belarus are holding in Eastern Europe and the Baltic--and which Finland's defence Minister regards as a successful information warfare measure by Russia.

Puolustusministeri Jussi Niinistö
Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / AFP

Some 300 Finnish military personnel are taking part in Sweden's biggest military exercises in 23 years, simulating the response to an attack on the country. Forces from nine countries are involved, and all but two are Nato members.

The exercises are timed to coincide with the Zapad 2017 exercises conducted by Russia and Belarus, which have been covered extensively in the western media.

Finnish Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö told Yle on Monday that he regarded the Russian exercises as a propaganda exercise—and one that had already been partly successful thanks to extensive coverage in the media.

Information warfare

"It's definitely also information warfare," said Niinistö. "Western countries have taken the bait completely, they've plugged the exercises so much."

The corresponding Aurora war games run from 11-29 September around September, Gothenburg and Gotland as well as in the south of the Baltic Sea.

According to the Defence Forces, the exercises are part of normal Finnish-Swedish military co-operation, with the goal of improving international military co-operation and Finns' operational capabilities in a multinational military force.

In all, some 19,000 soldiers and other officials are involved in the exercises, with troops from Lithuania, Norway, Poland, France, Denmark, Estonia and the United States taking part.

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