A military training jointly attended by Finnish and American aircraft kicked off on Monday in northeastern Finland.

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A few dozen activists staged a peaceful demonstration outside the Rissala base in northeastern Finland, warning of the consequences that Finland will face if it joins a military alliance. Finland is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO).

The spokesperson of the demonstrators Kirsti Era told local newspaper Savon Sanomat the joint maneuver was a provocation against Finland’s neighbour Russia.

Demonstrators also deplored the timing of the training, which coincides with the 71th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, Russia’s term for World War II (WWII).The flag of the Soviet Union was shown briefly by an individual at the demonstration, but was quickly removed by the organizers.

Six F-15 fighter jets from U.S. joined the maneuver. They had been training in Finland for two weeks along with Finnish Air Force’s F-18 Hornets. The number of American personnel joined the training amounted to 150.

Earlier in February, the plan to launch the joint maneuver caused a political uproar as the plan was kept as a secret. Most members of the Parliamentary Defence Committee heard of the plan from a report of the national broadcaster Yle.

Later, Foreign Minister Timo Soini confirmed that the initiative to arrange the joint training had come from the United States. Finnish leaders then assured the public that foreign military presence in Finland would always be subject to the approval of Finland.

Commenting the training on Monday, Teija Tiilikainen, Director of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, told Savon Sanomat that it was understandable in the light of the tense international situation.

She underlined that these kinds of joint maneuvers were important to ensure the defence systems were compatible. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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