Thousands took to the streets of Gothenburg to protest against the ongoing Aurora 17 military drills, the largest Swedish military exercises in 23 years, as well as NATO and a perceived increased militarisation of the region, Saturday. Protesters, among them politicians, marched and chanted against NATO and Aurora 17. Left Party MP Stig Henriksson claimed «there is an ongoing armament in this... Еще region, we are making more and more exercises», while a protester stated that «NATO and USA are moving closer to Russia». Another protester cited the military threat from Russia as a «big big lie». Rather than a threat, the protester said Russia «have an interest to defend themselves. It's NATO and it's the USA moving closer and closer and closer to Russia. And they are asking for war.» Aurora 17 is the largest military drill to have been carried out in Sweden in the past 23 years, and is being carried out between September 11 and 29. More than 19,000 Swedish soldiers are taking part in the exercises, alongside military units from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Norway and the USA. Swedish Aurora 17 is happening at the same time as Zapad 17, a joint military drill between Russia and Belarus taking place in both countries on Thursday. Up to 12,700 troops, 70 aircraft, 680 units of military hardware, including about 250 tanks, 200 pieces of artillery, rocket launchers and mortars, as well as up to ten warships are participating in the drills.