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Home NATIONALFinland reveals new military cooperation with USA
Fri, 19 Feb, 2016 03:54:28 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Feb 19

Finland has announced a series of new steps within a week in Finnish-U.S. military cooperation - first an air manoeuvre involving U.S. F-15s, then a land exercise with U.S. armed personnel carriers, and later a training simulating a landing in southern Finland.

Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö confirmed on Thursday that U.S. land forces will be participating in a training in Finland. Talking to the parliament, he specified that a U.S. force using some twenty U.S. "Stryker" armed personnel carriers would be arriving in Finland towards the end of the spring.

Niinistö was originally asked to brief parliament about the arrival of U.S. F-15s in May for an airforce manoeuvre, but was confronted with media reports about "U.S. tanks coming to Finland". He said that to his knowledge U.S. armed personnel carriers have not trained in Finland earlier.

Later Thursday, ministry officials also confirmed local media reports about a planned multinational exercise simulating a landing in southern Finland including U.S. forces. The Hanko peninsula in southern Finland, where a landing would be simulated, last saw a real foreign military landing in 1918. At that time Imperial German forces landed in Finland to intervene in the Finnish civil war.

The lack of advance information has upset many parliamentarians.

Pekka Ervasti, political writer of Finnish national broadcaster Yle, said it appears that the message about Finnish-U.S. military training is being given to politicians as a "fait accompli".

Ervasti claimed that the would-be repercussions of a new military step has not been subjected to sufficient political advance review in Finland.

The analyst cautioned that the entry of U.S. troops into Finland will be "interpreted as a message" in Russia. Finland shares a long land border with Russia.

Yle indicated that even the governmental and presidential level had faced briefing problems with the military.

Yle said President Sauli Niinistö had earlier asked for detailed information about exercises with foreign companions this year, but apparently did not received.

 The upcoming air exercises had been discussed jointly with the government and the president late last year, but information had been written such a way that it was only made clear to professional soldiers.

 Yle reported that when President Niinistö met the Parliamentarian Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday this week, he spent a lot of time on the air exercise plans. Meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee are confidential, but Yle quoted people in presence as describing the president saying that "control had failed".

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