For the first time as a NATO member, Finland will lead large-scale exercises in the Baltic Sea

Sofiia Telishevska

On November 20, NATO naval exercises will start in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea, which will be led by Finland. The Freezing Winds 23 exercise in the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea will last 10 days.

This was announced by the Finnish Navy.

In addition to the Finns, the Swedish Navy, NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) with three ships from Germany and the Netherlands, and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) with seven ships from Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and France will take part in these exercises.

In total, it is planned to involve 30 warships, as well as coastal and land forces, in the maneuvers.

The countries should practice naval operations within the framework of NATOʼs joint international operations in the Baltic Sea. More than four thousand people were involved in the exercises.

Joining the exercise will be the 2nd US Marine Logistics Group, which deployed to Finland in early November, as well as the UK Royal Navyʼs RFA Mounts Bay amphibious assault ship with a Marine unit, which plans to conduct joint exercises with the Finns.

Freezing Winds 23 will be joined by 16 aircraft, including US Marine Corps F/A Squadron 18, French Atlantique 2 patrol aircraft, SNMG1 helicopters.

"Throughout the exercise, air operations will be conducted over southern Finland and the northern part of the Baltic Sea. In addition to the Air Force, the air operations will be carried out by the army and the Border Service," the Finnish Navy Command said.

The Navy has warned that the military will use surface-to-air and surface-to-surface flares, which could trigger false observations on weather radars, and infrared flares could appear as short, bright flashes in the sky.

  • Finland applied to join NATO on May 18, 2022 — after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On March 1, 2023, Finland approved the draft law on joining NATO. On March 23, the law was signed by the countryʼs president, Sauli Niinisto. And already on April 4, 2023, Finland became the 31st member of NATO.