Thousands of people in Sweden have staged a protest rally against military drills with NATO and the deployment of forces from the US-led military alliance to their country.
The protesters took to the streets in the Swedish city of Gothenburg on Saturday to voice their anger at the ongoing Aurora 17 military drills and what they called the increased militarization of the region.
Demonstrators chanted anti-US slogans and held banners that read, “No to war, no to NATO,” and “Stop EU/NATO militarism.”
Members of the Swedish parliament and other politicians were also among the protesters.
“We should protect our own borders and not with NATO because I think companionship with NATO is a threat to our security and we shouldn’t go into any military alliance. Not with Russia, not with anybody else,” said Stig Henriksson, a Swedish Left Party MP attending the rally.
“There is an ongoing armament in this region, we are making more and more exercises and so on. And that is lowering our security because it is raising the tension. And I think the tension could sooner or later explode,” he added.
The Swedish military started the Aurora 17 drills, its first and largest in more than two decades, on Wednesday.
More than 19,000 Swedish soldiers are taking part in the exercises, alongside military units from NATO members Denmark, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Norway, and the US as well as Finland, over a three-week period.
The Swedish drills were launched as joint military exercises also started between Russia and Belarus.
Those maneuvers, described by Moscow as “purely defensive,” involve 12,700 troops, 70 aircraft, 250 tanks, and 10 warships.