War games sends troops close to the Russian border

Kaakko 19 exercise involves thousands of personnel with the scenarios playing out mostly in south east Finland.

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File picture of personnel taking part in Kaakko 19 military exercise, November 2019 / Credit: @maavoimat Twitter

The Finnish Defence Forces began a major military exercise in south east Finland this week, close to the Russian border.

Some 12,000 people, including 6,200 conscripts, 3,200 reservists and 2,600 service personnel are taking part in the Kaakko 19 exercise from the Finnish Army, Navy, Air Force, Defence Command and the Border Guard.

“The Finnish Defence Forces’ main exercises solidify the importance of cooperation between the services and the Border Guard” says Finnish Army Lieutenant General Petri Hulkko.

“These exercises also serve as an excellent opportunity to put to the test the competence of all persons liable for military duty, of both our conscripts and reservists, in a major
exercise entity” he adds.

According to Defence Forces Command the main focus of Kaakko 19 is on modern warfare, as forces test their capability to respond to rapidly evolving situations and joint operating scenarios.

The week-long exercise will cause some traffic delays on public highways as those involve in the exercise move around the region in South Karelia (Lappeenranta, Savitaipale, Taipalsaari); South Savo (Hamina, Kotka, Kymenlaakso, Mikkeli, Mäntyharju, Valkeala); and Uusimaa (Porvoo).

In addition, there are training activities also in the coastal areas of southern and south east Finland, the Archipelago Sea, the Gulf of Finland and Helsinki.

The Defense Forces organise a major exercise every two years, and it’s not likely to be a coincidence that on the 80th anniversary of the start of the Winter War in 1939 when Russia attacked Finland, that Kaakko 19 is taking place so close to the Russian border.