NATO aspirant hosts US, French and German warships

A major NATO exercise will take place in the Baltics following a port call to Helsinki

A French Navy vessel and two American warships joined forces with a German frigate on Friday in Helsinki. Finland applied for NATO membership and has been holding exercises with countries other than its own. Sweden, another aspirant to NATO, will host an important NATO drill next month.

The USS Gravely, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the USS Gunston Hall, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, and the French Navy’s F70 type anti-submarine ship Latouche-Treville docked in the Finnish capital on Friday and will remain there till Monday, Finnish authorities reported.

They have been joined by the German Navy Ship the Sachsen. This ship is the leading air-defense frigate in the class. It arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday, after taking part in a joint exercise with Finland’s Coastal Fleet earlier in the week.

They also conducted a joint naval exercise at the Baltic. Also involved was the USS Kearsarge which is an amphibious assault ship of Wasp class, along with Finnish and Swedish troops. Sweden sent the HSwMS Carlskrona to the drill as its second-largest warship.

The USS Kearsarge sailed to Stockholm after the maneuvers in Finland. It is there, among other things, for the NATO exercise Baltops 2022. This year’s annual drill is in its 51st edition and will include 14 allies, as well as Finland & Sweden. John Kirby, Pentagon spokesperson, said that the exercise will include more than 45 maritime units, 75 planes, and approximately 7000 personnel.

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© Getty Images / Jeff J Mitchell
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Finland and Sweden have long been closely integrated with NATO, but refrained from joining the US-led bloc due to national traditions of non-alignment and Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement in Europe. This changed when Russia launched an attack on Ukraine. Russia accuses NATO of encroaching into Ukraine’s territory without a formal expansion as it cited reasons for the attack.

Both the Nordic states applied to be full members of the alliance in March, but Turkey is resisting them. Ankara accused Finland and Sweden of “harboring terrorists” and compromising Turkey’s security with an arms embargo, among other things.



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