Joe Biden was in Ukraine for the first time since the Russian invasion started almost a year ago, and on the other side of Europe, roughly a thousand US forces were participating in a joint exercise to train for Arctic combat.
In pictures from the Lapland region of Finland, US and other partner forces can be seen practicing shooting and skiing while wearing white overalls as part of Arctic Forge 23, which will take place from February 16 to March 17.
Defense Exercise North, a training exercise in northern Finland, and the Joint Viking exercise, which takes place in Norway, make up the total exercise.
On the Russian border, 77 miles away in Sodankyla, Finland, 280 U.S. Around 550 Finnish personnel will collaborate with army soldiers. The 10th Mountain Division, the 11th Airborne Division, and the Virginia Army National Guard were charged with “intensive” Arctic training, according to the U.S. Army.
200 members of the Army and about 730 US Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force are participating in the exercise in Norway.
The U.S. issued a statement on February 13 prior the deployment. Army officials stated that the training’s objective was to “demonstrate readiness by deploying a combat-credible force to enhance power in NATO’s northern flank in support of our partner Finland, an aspiring NATO member.”
Biden spoke with Zelensky, military, diplomatic, and embassy personnel during his more than 5 hours in Kyiv on Monday morning.
At a news conference, Biden stated, “One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands. The Americans stand with you, and the world stands with you.”
Relations between Russia and several Western countries have essentially been placed on hold since Putin commanded what he has repeatedly referred to as a “special military operation,” with ambassadors being expelled and financial and political penalties being imposed.
Finland and Sweden officially signed NATO accession protocols during the conflict, but Hungary and Turkey have not yet ratified their membership.
According to II Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general David A. Ottignon, “Our relationships with our Nordic partners and Allies have never been better. We learn so much from training with them and enhancing our ability to sustain ourselves and operate in the high north.”
He continued that the military was “more survivable and lethal in austere environments” as a result of exercises.
The 11th Airborne Division’s deployment for Defense Exercise North started with a flight across the North Pole from Alaska to Finland. The 11th Airborne Division’s commanding commander, Major General Brian Eifler, referred to the group as “America’s Arctic professionals.”
More than 10,090 military members from NATO partners the U.K., Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway will join those already in Norway.