Four NATO warships dock in Helsinki | New

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The naval visits, which were agreed a few weeks ago, send a message of support during Finland’s transition period to NATO, the defense minister and chairman of the defense committee said.

The US Navy’s 190m landing ship USS Gunston Hall will be docked in Helsinki until Monday. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

Four warships from the United States, Germany and France were docked at Helsinki’s Hernesaari pier on Saturday evening. American and German ships participated in exercises in the Baltic Sea.

According to the Finnish Navy, interest in Finland has increased. The visits are a sign of support for Finland since it applied for NATO membership on May 18, the squadron commander said. Jussi Jamsen.

“That’s how we see it. The interest in Finland has been absolutely huge. We really appreciate the fact that these ships are visiting Helsinki,” he told Yle.

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“Several countries participated in exercises in the Baltic Sea. Due to the international situation, interest in Finland increased, so ships wanted to come here for maintenance and give the crew a chance to rest,” said Commander Jussi Jämsén of the Finnish Navy. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

Number of military exercises on the rise

On Friday, the Defense Ministry said Finland was stepping up its participation in international military exercises. Twenty training and exercise events are planned for the remainder of the year, eight of which have been added to the schedule.

The new drills are part of preparations for possible disruption by Russia in the transition period between submitting the NATO bid and approving membership, the defense minister said. Antti Kaikkonen (Cen).

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“Only a few crew members of the USS Gunston Hall have visited Finland before, so we came here to enjoy the culture, the food and the museums,” said the ship’s captain, Commander Elizabeth Nelson. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

“We’re strengthening our partnerships during the bid period. Part of that translates into how we train a little more with our close partners, and we’ll definitely see more kinds of visits in the coming months,” Kaikkonen said. at Yele.

Kaikkonen: “It’s good that we have friends”

However, increasing the number of exercises does not represent a major change, Kaikkonen said.

“But it’s a clear sign of support for Finland and it helps strengthen Finland’s defense capabilities,” he said.

According to Kaikkonen, the naval visits had already been agreed before Finland submitted its NATO application, but the presence of warships in Finnish territorial waters sends a strong message.

“It shows that we have good partnerships around the world and that we cooperate actively on defense issues. Of course, we have done that in the past, and in this kind of slightly turbulent situation, their value will, of course. , increase again. It’s good that we have friends,” he said.

Orpo: strong message to Russia

Petteri Orpo (NCP), Chairman of the Parliamentary Defense Committee, considers the increase in the number of military exercises as a positive and expected decision.

“This is part of a plan to keep Finland safe during the NATO process. The exercises will increase the presence of our partner countries in Finland and surrounding areas. This is absolutely a good thing for the Finland,” the opposition leader said.

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The USS Gunston Hall took part in a Finnish Navy exercise in the Gulf of Finland last week. He will leave Helsinki on Monday. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

“We have received very strong signals of strong support from the United States, Great Britain and many other NATO countries. They show that they are committed to the security of Finland and to the “Finland’s NATO membership. It’s a strong political message to the outside world, including Russia, that they are serious about us,” Orpo added.

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