20:12 GMT26 February 2020
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    Finland, which maintains the largest army in Northern Europe, is poised to increase the number of volunteers who will undergo refresher training three times in a single year, from today's 4,000 to 12,000.

    Finnish reservists will receive invitations for refresher training exercises more frequently next year, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen has pledged at the inauguration of the National Defence Courses in Helsinki, national broadcaster Yle reported.

    According to Finnish Defence Forces Commander Timo Kivinen, more than 19,000 reservists will receive refresher training next year, an increase of 1,200. However, three times as many reservists are to take part in volunteer activities next year, 12,000 compared to this year's 4,000.

    Kaikkonen said that the increase in the number of exercises is not very substantial, but stressed that the government plans to keep increasing exercises in the coming years as well.

    “There is a clear need and demand for it”, Kaikkonen explained.

    During its four-year term, the left-of-the-centre government led by the Social Democrats plans to gradually increase the number of refresher training courses by a total of 20 percent.

    So far, $1.65 million has been earmarked in additional funding to boost refresher training by 2023.

    Finland is the only non-NATO EU state bordering Russia. Its armed forces number over 8,000 career servicemen and 25,000 conscripts, making it the largest force in Northern Europe. Finland's official policy presumes a wartime military strength of 280,000 personnel as a deterrent factor. All in all, it has 900,000 reserve personnel and boasts Europe's second-largest tank fleet.

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