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Wednesday, 29 November, 2023
Home NATIONALNo political intention in BALTOPS: Helsinki
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Tue, 07 Jun, 2016 12:10:05 AM
Russia plans "adequate" response: Lavrov
FTimes – STT-Xinhua Report, Jun 7
Defense Jussi Niinistö on Monday spoke at a press conference on NATO Baltops-military exercise began in Hanko. Photo Lehtikuva.
Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö does not believe that the NATO-led BALTOPS exercise launched on Monday will raise any political passions.
“We are not part of the NATO defence planning,” Niinistö told a press conference on Monday.
The BALTOPS exercise is held annually in the Baltic Sea. This is the first time a part of the exercise is being held in Finland. 
About 600 strong amphibious battle groups are participating in the exercise in Syndalen, Han that will continue till Thursday.
“The BALTOPS exercise is a good opportunity to learn from the armies of other countries and bring forth the Finnish knowhow,” said Niinistö.
Meanwhile, Russia is preparing an “adequate” response to the expansion of NATO towards its borders, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, reported the news agency Xinhua.
“We do not hide that we have a negative attitude toward the NATO policy of expanding its military infrastructure toward our borders,” Lavrov said at a press conference with his Finnish counterpart Timo Soini.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shows the way to his Finnish counterpart Timo Soini during a meeting in Moscow on June 6, 2016. Photo AFP-LEHTIKUVA.
Russia has announced deployment of three new divisions near its western borders as one of its measures in response to NATO’s building missile defence systems in Romania and Poland and the signing of an accession protocol with Montenegro.
Lavrov said NATO used the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s reaction to Kiev’s attempts to discriminate against ethnic Russians in the east of the country “to invent a new pretext for the existence of the alliance.”
Lavrov ruled out the possibility of Russia’s attacking any NATO member states, which he said was an excuse used by the United States to deploy more troops and weapons to maintain its control over Europe.
Russia also disapproved of the NATO policy of involving other states in its military activities, Lavrov said, commenting on the NATO BALTOPS 2016 military exercise which started in Finland on Monday.
Soini, for his part, said the exercise in which Finland has been taking part since 1993 has the goal of strengthening Finland's defence capacity and was not aimed against anybody. 
NATO Baltops-military exercise began in Hanko on Monday.Photo Lehtikuva.
Soldiers from Hanko, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Holland, Britain, and the United States are participating in the exercise in Hanko.
The exercise is held under the command of NATO maritime department, the Naval Striking and Support Force.
The mine layer FNS Uusimaa with a crew of about a hundred and a 160-strong coastal jaeger company from the Nyland Brigade are taking part in the exercise.
Finland and Sweden will be involved in the training only from Monday to Wednesday. 
After the exercise in Hanko, the BALTOPS will continue to Utö in Sweden and then to southern Baltic.
The BALTOPS exercise was first held in 1971. Finland has been taking part in the exercise since 1993.
According to the Defence Forces preliminary data, about 4,500 soldiers from about 20 countries are taking part in the exercise this time round. The number of participants has, however, risen to 6,100.
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