Four NATO Warships Arrive In Finland As ‘Show Of Support’ During Membership Bid
Four NATO warships from the United States, Germany and France have arrived in a Finnish port this weekend ahead of planned joint exercises to take place in the Baltic Sea.
The ships have docked at the port of Helsinki, Finland’s national public broadcasting company YLE reported. Finnish Navy Commander Jussi Jasmen issued a statement upon their arrival saying, “We see these visits as an expression of solidarity, and interest in Finland has grown significantly in recent times.”
Finnish defense officials are describing the presence of the ships as specifically related to the country’s controversial NATO membership bid alongside Sweden. Both countries have abandoned their historic neutrality, citing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Baltic region naval exercises reportedly kicked off Saturday:
The two-day exercise, set to commence on April 28, will prepare the Finnish ships to take part in NATO response forces in 2022 and focus on “mine countermeasures and working in a multinational framework”, the statement said.
Describing NATO’s increased presence in Finland and in its waters, one military commander was cited in national media as follows: “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 18 May, said the Squadron Commander Jussi Jämsén.”
“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,” Jämsén further told YLE.
What’s more is that Finland has declared it will up its participation in NATO military exercises, at a moment Moscow is warning Helsinki and Stockholm of “technical and military” responses if they enter the Western military alliance. Finland has the Kremlin particularly alarmed, given a shared 810-mile long Russian border.
In addition, the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge called at the port of Tallinn (Estonia) and returned from the Yeager 2022 naval maneuvers. pic.twitter.com/SuYoz2PUgd
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 29, 2022
Importantly, Finland’s defense chief had this to say: “The new exercises are part of preparations for possible disruption from Russia in the transition period between the submission of the Nato application and membership approval, said Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen.”
Kaikkonen said: “We’re strengthening our partnerships during the application period. This is reflected, among other things, in the way we’re training a little more with our close partners, and we’ll certainly see other types of visits in the coming months.” .
Sun, 05/29/2022 – 12:00