STOCKHOLM — The Swedish military says it is against canceling a major military exercise in May even after several allies have pulled out.

The Aurora 20 military drill is scheduled to be held from May 11 through June 4 on air, land and sea in the southern Skane region with some 3,000 international troops.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT reports Canada and Germany have canceled participation and Austria is considering not coming. Britain will substantially scale down contribution. The United States and Nordic neighbor Finland have said they will attend Aurora 20.

Spokesman Marcus Nilsson from the Swedish Armed Forces told SVT it was utterly important for Sweden to arrange the drill in the wake of the new coronavirus pandemic to show that “when the society is in a crisis, the defense must be at its strongest.”

Many national and international military exercises in Europe have been called off in the past weeks due to the spread of COVID-19.

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