Volunteers in Finland took part in military training and security drills on Saturday, after the Nordic country reaffirmed its NATO accession at a meeting with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday.
The drills were organised by the National Defence Training Association of Finland (MPK), near Pieksämäki, southern part of the country.
At the MPK Pieksämäki training range, head instructor Jehki Kimonen runs national defence training association courses, which teach military skills, preparedness and security training to volunteer soldiers.
Mr Kimonen believes the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, involving Finland’s neighbour Russia, has led to more people attending courses at his training range.
“The demand for them is much higher now as interest has gone up,” he told Reuters.
’We need to be prepared for everything’
Pasi Pulkkinen, a volunteer taking part in a military drills course at the range, reaffirmed the notion that the conflict in Ukraine has brought preparedness to the forefront of Finnish people’s minds.
“At this moment I do not feel there is a threat against Finland but because of the situation in Ukraine, I am sure we need to be prepared for everything,” he said.
Swedish and Finnish diplomats met in Turkey on Wednesday in an attempt to appease the NATO member who is opposed to the Nordic states’ accession to the alliance.
Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said in talks with Antony Blinken on Friday that it was very important that some results be achieved with Turkey before the NATO summit in Madrid between June 29 and 30.
Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last week, seeking to boost security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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