Large-scale Russian military exercises are underway in Finland involving 38,000 soldiers, 41 warships and 15 submarines, as Putin has told troops to prepare for potential combat.
Military exercises in north-west Russia include troops recently sent to Alakurtti, an isolated town 50km from the Finnish border that was part of Finland until the Second World War. On Monday President Vladimir Putin ordered Arctic troops to full combat readiness ahead of exercises on the Kola Peninsula.
“The motorized brigade based in Alakurtti will be tested for the first time,” said the Russian Defence Ministry.
The relocation of troops to Alakurtti was covered widely in the Finnish media when it was announced in January, with analysts suggesting it marked a shift back towards Soviet military planning.
The exercises include 38,000 soldiers, 41 warships and 15 submarines as well as 110 planes and helicopters. The exercises come as Norway undertakes its own military exercises in the northern Finnmark region involving some 5,000 troops–and Finland tests new NH90 helicopters in Lapland.