Copenhagen, April 17. Sweden has been hosting the largest military maneuvers on its territory since Monday in a quarter of a century, exercises which will bring together more than 26,000 soldiers from 13 countries, including several NATO members.

The maneuvers, called Aurora 23, will last until May 11, will take place mainly in the south of the country and on the Baltic island of Gotland and will include land, sea and air exercises.

The objective of the exercises, planned for months, is to repel the hypothetical armed attack of a “foreign power”, reported the Ministry of Defense.

Participating soldiers include some 700 US Marines, as well as military personnel from the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway, among other countries.

“These are important maneuvers for Sweden’s defensive capability,” Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Micael Bydén told public broadcaster Radio Sweden today.

Aurora 23 takes place as Sweden continues negotiations to finalize its entry into NATO, approved at last June’s summit in Madrid but awaiting the green light from Turkey and Hungary, the last two member countries which do not have not yet ratified it.

Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to end two centuries of military non-alignment and seek membership of the Alliance a year ago, approved in Madrid after Turkey lifted its veto at the last minute in exchange for certain conditions, defined in an agreement.

But while Finland was already accepted as a full member earlier this month, Sweden is still waiting to overcome Turkish and Hungarian reluctance.

Budapest criticized the “hostile” attitude of Stockholm and stressed that it was necessary to resolve a “large number of complaints”, while Ankara reproaches this Nordic country for not extraditing people linked to terrorist organizations, in particular the Kurdish sphere.

The Swedish government has reiterated that it has complied with all points of the June agreement in Madrid and sees no reason why the ratification process should not continue, pending its entry to be formalized at the EU summit. NATO in July in Vilnius. ECE


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