Game Over? Foreign Military Forces Pull Out of Major Drills in Sweden Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The original layout for the $65 million drill anticipated 25,000 participants, including 3,000 from twelve foreign countries. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak and widespread cancellation calls, the fate of the drill will be decided on 6 April.

Several foreign countries have announced that they will not participate in Aurora 20, a major defence exercise which was set to be held in Sweden, its national broadcaster SVT reported.

Canada was the first to announce its pullout, followed by Germany. Austria is considering withdrawing, whereas Britain is withdrawing its frigate but will send an infantry company, thus substantially scaling down its contribution.

The original plan included about 25,000 participants, including 3,000 from twelve invited countries. Aurora 20 was long touted as an even larger reprise of Aurora 17, which was celebrated as Sweden’s largest military exercise in decades.

Originally, Aurora 20 was to be held between 11 May and 4 June in southern Sweden, including in the counties of Blekinge and Skåne. However, on Monday, 6 April, the Swedish Armed Forces will decide whether Aurora 20 should be held as planned, rescheduled, or scaled back.

“We are in contact with our international partners and are aware that their contributions may change at short notice depending on how different countries are affected by Covid-19,” communications manager Jonas Svensson told SVT. “The exercise team for Aurora 20 is currently working intensively now on…

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