Finish Women Rush For Combat Training

The war in Ukraine has caused great alarm in Finland, which shares a 1,300 km (810 miles) border with Russia and during World War Two fought two wars against the Soviet Union which cost it a tenth of its territory.

About 100,000 Finns were killed.

Spurred on by the invasion, Finland broke with decades of domestic defence and security policy last month when it applied for membership in the NATO military alliance.

Finland’s Women’s National Emergency Preparedness Association said demand for their courses had shot up since February.

Right after the war broke out, our phones started ringing and emails were flying in … and of course the demand for training went up, said Ms. Suvi Aksela, the association’s head of communications.

The trend is in keeping with Finland’s long tradition of wartime volunteering among women who, in contrast to men, are not required to do military service.

Around 19 percent of Finland’s 13,000 professional military personnel are women, according to data from the military, although only 1-2 per cent of conscripts are female.

According to a poll published by the defence ministry last month, 85 per cent of Finns now see Russia has having a negative effect on Finland’s security, compared to 34 per cent in 2007.

The same poll showed that 83 per cent of Finns think they should take up arms in the event of a military attack on their country, even if the outcome seemed uncertain.

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