The port race in Helsinki will be followed by a major NATO exercise in the Baltics
Two US warships and a French navy joined a German frigate in Helsinki on Friday. Finland has applied to join NATO and is holding a number of exercises with other nations. Sweden, a co-aspirant, will host a major NATO exercise next month.
The USS Gravely, a guided missile fighter of the Arleigh Burke class, the USS Gunston Hall, a Whidbey Island class landing craft and the French Navy’s F70 Latouche-Treville submarine docked in the Finnish capital on Friday and will remain. there until Monday, Finnish authorities reported.
The warships have joined the German navy’s Saxony, leading in its class of air defense frigates. It arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday, after participating in a joint exercise with the Finnish Coastal Fleet earlier this week.
The ships of the two American navies also carried out a joint naval exercise in the Baltic Sea. It also involved the USS Kearsarge, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, as well as Finnish and Swedish forces. Sweden sent its second largest warship, HSwMS Carlskrona, to participate in the exercise.
After the maneuvers near Finland, the USS Kearsarge sailed for Stockholm, where it is planned to participate in the massive NATO exercise Baltops 2022. The 51st iteration of the annual exercise will take place between 5 and 17 June and involves 14 allies and Finland . and Sweden. More than 45 maritime units, 75 aircraft and about 7,000 personnel will participate in the exercise, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Finland and Sweden have long been closely integrated with NATO, but refrained from joining the US-led bloc due to national traditions of freedom of alliance and Russia’s opposition to NATO enlargement in Europe. The attitude changed after Moscow launched an attack on Ukraine. Russia accuses NATO of encroaching on Ukrainian territory without a formal enlargement because it cited the reasons for the attack.
The two Nordic countries applied for full membership in the alliance earlier this month, but must overcome opposition from Turkey before they can be adopted. Ankara accused Finland and Sweden of “hosting terrorists” and jeopardizing Turkey’s security with, among other things, an arms embargo.