(Helsinki) Finland announced Thursday that it has conducted its first military exercise since joining NATO, with two German and Portuguese ships symbolically moored in the port of Helsinki.
The two frigates, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Bartolomeu Dias, are due to stop in the capital until Sunday, the Finnish navy said in a statement.
Before their arrival in Helsinki, the NATO ships took part in an exercise organized by the Finnish Coastal Fleet on Wednesday in the Gulf of Finland near Russia, with three ships from the Nordic country.
“ This is the first time that Finland and the coastal fleet have carried out an exercise and a visit since Finland became a member of NATO,” the navy said in a statement.
Putting an end to decades of neutrality and then military non-alignment, the Nordic country, bordering Russia, officially entered the Alliance on April 4, becoming its 31st member.
Finland and Sweden announced their NATO candidacy last May, as a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s demand to freeze any eastward expansion of the alliance. .
Sweden has not yet obtained the essential green lights from two members, Turkey and Hungary, and remains at NATO’s doorstep for the time being.
Finland’s entry into NATO adds 1,340 kilometers of border between the alliance and Russia.
The Nordic country, which even after the end of the Cold War maintained massive military reserves of several hundred thousand deployable citizens, contributes significant military resources to NATO.
Training with NATO soldiers has already taken place regularly in recent years, Finland being a member of the alliance’s “Partnership for Peace”.