Defence Forces Day marked with Lapland parade, and thinly-veiled message to Russia

Hundreds of troops took part in the parade and fly-by, to the delight of local residents in Rovaniemi.

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Finnish military personnel take part in Defence Forces Day parade, Rovaniemi, 4th June 2019 / Credit: Puolustusvoimat Twitter

Finnish military personnel commemorated Defence Forces day on Tuesday with a parade in Rovaniemi, where troops heard a thinly-veiled message to Russia about Finland’s Arctic capabilities.

The date marks the birthday of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, former President of Finland and commander of the armed forces. The first parade was celebrated in Helsinki back in 1952, and this year is also the 100th anniversary of general military service in Finland.

Today’s Rovaniemi events included troops from the Air Force, Army, National Defence College, Border Guard and veteran organisations.

The Commander of the Finnish Air Force Major General Pasi Jokinen reviewed the parade, and told service personnel they should “look vigilantly to the horizon, securing the fatherland from external threats”.

“The importance of the Arctic region has been highlighted in recent years in domestic and international forums. In addition to climate and environmental issues as well as economic issues, the security aspect has also been discussed” said Jokinen in his speech.

“Military equipment and operations have grown in our northern neighborhood. This underlines the mission of the Defense Forces to defend the whole country” he said, adding that the country’s defence forces operate in all parts of Finland, including the north.

In recent years Russia has been re-awakening its military capabilities in the Arctic north, opening mothballed bases and investing in more naval assets, as well as bases close to Finnish territory.

In the afternoon, a flyby of Hornets over Rovaniemi marked the culmination of this year’s celebrations of Armed Forces Day.

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