NIAS Europe Studies

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NIAS Europe Studies
The Nordic-Ukraine Summit: Four Takeaways

  Sreeja JS

About the author

Sreeja JS is a Research Intern at NIAS, Bangalore. She is currently pursuing masters at the Madras Christian College, Chennai. Her areas of interest include EU-China relations, challenges in EU integration and emerging technologies.

On 03 May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the Nordic-Ukrainian Summit in Helsinki. The President of Finland and the Prime Ministers of Norway, Denmark and Iceland attended the summit. The summit discussed Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Nordics’ continuing military and civilian assistance and Ukraine’s relationship with NATO and EU, both membership bid and support. The joint statement read: “Russia must immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” Later during a press conference with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö, Zelenskyy said: “I believe that this year will be decisive for us, for Europe, for Ukraine, decisive for victory.” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö spoke about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised global issues that impact nations and opinions. He said: “In a way, it seems that there is a worldwide competition of nations’ souls going on.”

Since the war began, the Nordic region has undergone a paradigm shift as the war started in its neighbourhood, affecting the stability of the region. The transformation from the supply of equipment to weapons, the increase in military assistance and the joining of Finland into NATO manifests this shift. Within the first week of the war, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway increased their support. They started sending assault rifles, bulletproof vests, helmets, stretchers and a minimal amount of anti-tank weapon systems. Later, the Nordics increased their military and defence assistance and started sending weapons to Ukraine, which has significantly increased over time. The war in the background has prompted Finland to join NATO.

Following are the four takeaways of the summit

1.Nordic countries’ unwavering support to Ukraine
The Nordic countries have been staunchly supporting Ukraine since the launch of a full-scale invasion in February 2022. The joint statement read: “The Nordic countries remain unwavering in their commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.” They condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and repeatedly urged withdrawing forces and stopping all military operations within Ukrainian borders. At the summit, they underlined their stance to bring to justice those responsible for violence and war crimes committed in connection with the ongoing Russian invasion. The Nordic-Ukrainian summit and its fallouts present a united front in the Nordic against Russia.

2. Bolstering international cooperation to assist Ukraine in its war efforts
The Nordics promised to coordinate with international forums such as the EU, NATO, UN and other platforms to extend military and financial support to Ukraine. The statement enunciated that in addition to their national contributions, Nordics are channeling military assistance to Kyiv through European Peace Facility and training Ukrainian soldiers under EU Military Assistance Mission. They have also extended their support for establishing a special tribunal for prosecuting the “crime of aggression.”  It also added that the international register of damage would be presented at the Reykjavik Summit of the Council of Europe (16 to 17 May), which will be an “important milestone” to compensate for all the losses and damages caused by the Russian aggression.

3. The promise of further military and financial assistance to Ukraine and the commitment to engage in its recovery and reconstruction post-war
According to the joint statement, the Nordics reaffirmed that they would continue their political, financial, humanitarian and military support to Ukraine, together and individually, as long as it takes. This also bolsters international cooperation with the EU, NATO, UN and other international organizations. The Nordic countries have made significant military contributions to Ukraine. They have donated various weapon systems consisting of high-value air defence systems, Leopard main battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles and artillery systems and munitions. Since February 2022, the national Nordic military assistance packages delivered to Ukraine extend up to approximately EUR 4.4 billion. The civilian assistance comprising financial, humanitarian and emergency support has already exceeded EUR 1.5 billion and is expected to grow. The Nordics also pledged their commitment to contribute to the post-war recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine.

4. Zelenskyy’s diplomatic offensive for the long-awaited counteroffensive
Russia’s success in Soledar and its progress in Bakhmut impelled Kyiv to garner support regionally and internationally. Zelsnkyy’s recent visits to the Nordic countries, UK, Germany, Italy, Arab League and G7 summits come in this background, aiming to procure both financial and military support. Nordic countries have supported Ukraine militarily and financially since the beginning of the invasion. The support of Nordic countries to Ukraine would mean increased military and financial support to Kyiv, adding weight to its upcoming offensive.

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