NATO countries are in the middle of Arctic military drills, vowing on Tuesday to defend their newest member, Finland, which is hosting its first joint NATO exercise since becoming the 31st member of the Western alliance in April.
The addition of Finland doubles the length of the border NATO shares with Russia, which launched a large-scale invasion of another neighbor, Ukraine, in February last year.
Nearly 1,000 allied forces from the United States, Britain and Norway, and also from neighboring Sweden, joined some 6,500 Finnish troops and some 1,000 vehicles for the Northern Forest exercise, Finland’s biggest modern-time land force drill above the Arctic Circle.
[Editor’s Note: Russia and Finland share a 1,300-km (800-mile) border. Now it is an 800-mile long NATO-strength headache for Putin. Finland was already capable. Now even more so. The Kremlin has already said it will beef up military divisions stationed in its west and northwest, as well as establish new facilities in the region.
In April, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russia’s military leadership that Finland’s accession “creates the risks of a significant expansion of conflict”.]