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Paper: Defence Forces to stage spring exercises despite coronavirus crisis

The Defence Forces have about 10 different drills planned for the spring.

Varusmiehiä.
Up to 18,000 conscripts are due to participate in about 10 exercises this spring. Image: Samuli Haapala / Puolustusvoimat

Finland's Defence Forces intend to proceed with its largest spring exercises, despite the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the Uutissuomalainen regional news group.

So far the military organisation has called off only individual national exercises, Defence Forces' General Headquarters Lieutenant Commander Tuomas Syvänen told the paper.

This spring the Defence Forces are planning about 10 different exercises involving a total of 15,000 to 18,000 conscripts. However not all of the drills will take place at the same time or at the same place.

Refresher training exercises have however been suspended until the end of April.

Syvänen justified the plan to press ahead with the exercises by pointing to a government decision in mid-March, according to which the Defence Forces are required to ensure their continuity and readiness in all situations.

The defence command spokesperson said that restrictions on public gatherings aimed at curbing the spread of novel coronavirus do not apply to Defence Force activities.

He added that the military will be paying close attention to preventing the spread of the virus during the exercises.

The organisation is following the development of the situation and may still make changes to the proposed drills, the paper wrote. Earlier this week, Finland's government extended existing emergency measures until 13 May.

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