UK troops hold cold-weather exercises with Nato applicants Sweden and Finland

Exercise Vigilant Knife aims to develop skills when fighting in low temperatures

The exercise took place in Rovaniemi and Rovajarvi, northern Finland. PA
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British forces have taken part in cold weather military exercises with Nato applicants Sweden and Finland.

Exercise Vigilant Knife was staged against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which has focused national security attention on potential threats from Russia.

“While there is war in Europe, it is more important than ever to strengthen our international partnerships,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“We welcome Finland and Sweden's application to join Nato and will continue to exercise together so we are ready to face shared security challenges.

“Exercise Vigilant Knife is an invaluable opportunity for UK personnel to develop their skills and experience of war-fighting in cold weather conditions, enabling them to be effective on the battlefield alongside their Finnish and Swedish counterparts.”

The UK Ministry of Defence said the exercise offered a strengthening of “interoperability”, as both Sweden and Finland attempt to join Nato.

The exercise gave soldiers experience of fighting in cold weather conditions. PA

The command-post exercise took place in Rovaniemi and Rovajarvi in northern Finland between Monday and Friday last week.

Both Sweden’s and Finland’s bids to join the alliance have been delayed over concerns from Nato member Turkey that the two Nordic neighbours would not extradite people it considers to be terrorists.

Turkey, which has veto power over new applicants, made its approval for the applications conditional on a series of demands, one of which was the extradition issue.

Finland and Sweden submitted their Nato applications after Russia invaded Ukraine.

In an agreement signed by Sweden and Finland at a Nato summit in Madrid in late June, the two countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”.

Turkey believes Sweden and Finland have been havens for Kurdish militants.

Turkey dropped its veto to Finland and Sweden joining Nato in June, putting the countries on the fast track into the 30-nation alliance.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admission of the two countries would create a blueprint for the alliance “in a more dangerous and unpredictable world”, changing regional security and strengthening its presence in Europe.

Updated: September 04, 2022, 11:07 AM