(Helsinki) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to Finland on Wednesday, where he stressed that this year, in which he promised further offensives against the Russian aggressor, would be “decisive for Ukraine and Europe” against Russia.
“I believe this year will be decisive for us, for Europe, for Ukraine, decisive for victory” over Russia, Zelensky said during a press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, who he met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Nordic countries.
He praised Finland, a country bordering Russia whose Russian aggression against Ukraine prompted NATO membership in April after decades of neutrality.
Ukraine, which has applied for NATO membership, “needs the same level of security guarantees”, he stressed.
Mr. Niinisto stressed that it was “ very important ” that “ all NATO countries can speak with one voice on this subject ” at the alliance summit scheduled for Vilnius in July.
He returned to the subject of the possible supply to Ukraine of American F-18 fighter planes in service in Finland, previously mentioned by the outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin, stressing that if necessary it could not have take place before the delivery of the F-35s which are to replace them, expected in 2025.
But Mr. Zelensky said he was “ certain ” that Ukraine would obtain modern fighter jets – it claims F-16s that Western countries are still reluctant to provide – after proving its ability to carry out counter-offensives on the terrain, as had been done to unlock the delivery of modern battle tanks.
“We will carry out offensive actions, and then we will get planes,” he said.
Zelensky is also due to attend a Nordic summit with the prime ministers of Sweden Ulf Kristersson, Norway’s Jonas Gahr Store, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen and Iceland’s Katrin Jakobsdottir.
“In order to join NATO and support alliances to find support, fundamental diplomatic work must be done. Ukraine is doing it today,” wrote Daria Zarivna, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, on Telegram.
All Nordic countries pledged both financial and military support to Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February 2022.
Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway have also joined international efforts to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine by donating some of their own Leopard 2 tanks or offering money to buy them.
On Tuesday, Denmark announced the sending of military aid amounting to 1.7 billion crowns (228 million euros) to Ukraine to “ strengthen its ability to carry out an offensive in the coming months ” . This donation, the largest to date to this country, brings Danish military aid to Ukraine to 11 billion crowns (1.47 billion euros) since the start of the Russian offensive.