NATO warships arrived in the port of Turku in southwestern Finland on Monday to train with the Baltic nation’s naval forces. As the threat of Russian aggression pouring westward continues to alarm the west, three Northern Alliance frigates have reached Finland for training with two minehunters from the Finnish Coastal Fleet. NATO warships include the Latvian minelayer LVNS Virsaitis and the Estonian minehunters ENS Sakala and the Dutch HNLMS Schiedam.
Notably, the deployment came after Helsinki expressed its willingness to apply for NATO membership as early as May, according to local media. The two-day exercise, which is due to start on April 28, will prepare Finnish ships to participate in NATO’s response forces in 2022 and will focus on “countering mines and working in a multinational setting”, according to a statement from the country’s Defense Ministry. .
Finland, along with neighboring Sweden, has been closely allied with NATO, but has been reluctant to officially join the 30-member alliance. However, as Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine, the countries were alarmed. Currently, the leaders of the two countries have had several talks with NATO members. This provoked strong reprisals from the Russian Federation, which demanded security guarantees from both countries.
“NATO and Finland share common interests in maintaining international order conditions, secure shipping lines and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea,” the alliance said in a statement.
Finland and Sweden to join NATO
Finland and Sweden have jointly agreed to submit their candidacies to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as of May. According to local media in the Nordic countries, the two governments “indicated their willingness to join” the intergovernmental military alliance on the same day. A Finnish publication Iltalehti said on Monday that nominations should be published in the week starting May 16.
Meanwhile, the Swedish daily Expressen quoted its government sources as saying the prime ministers of the two Nordic countries discussed the change in Europe’s “security landscape” since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which led to “radically shaped mindsets”. in both countries.
“The information is correct and how it should be an agreement between Sweden and Finland that all requests submitted during this particular week, which also coincides with Finland’s state visit to Sweden,” Expressen reported. The state visit refers to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto’s trip to Stockholm scheduled for May 17-18.