Nordic nations may pool their growing military support to Ukraine

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HELSINKI — Nordic governments are exploring a number of joint initiatives to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia, including proposals for shared weapons buys, coordinating arms donations and expanding logistics cooperation to safely transport military equipment to the war-torn country.

The discussions emanate from a meeting of Nordic defense ministers in November that was hosted by Finland in Helsinki. The meeting, which focused on deepening pan-Nordic defense collaboration against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, examined the potential for greater linkage of the four countries in support of Kyiv.

The ongoing government-level talks are taking place as all four Nordic states, including NATO applicants Finland and Sweden, individually plan to increase their level of military support to Ukraine.

The monetary value of support by Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark to Ukraine is set to exceed $2 billion by year’s end.

“Ukraine still needs our support to defend itself. It is important that we continue to help as best we can. The war, unfortunately, looks like it will last a long time. Our continued support for Ukraine is essential,” said Antti Kaikkonen, Finland’s defense minister.

Finland is moving ahead with its 10th military aid package (MAP) to Ukraine since Russia invaded that country in February 2022. The latest shipment of weapons, which is valued at $58.5 million, includes specialist sniper rifles, mortars, munitions, in addition to extreme climate combat equipment and clothing.

The latest batch in aid increases Finland’s total spending on defense equipment to Ukraine to around $200 million.

Among the Nordic states, Sweden is set to become the largest provider of direct military aid to Ukraine in 2022. Sweden has ratified a new MAP for Ukraine, worth $290 million, that will include an air defense system and munitions from the Swedish Armed Force’s (SAF) stockpile. The delivery will be Sweden’s biggest aid package since the outbreak of war.

“For security reasons we are not detailing what is in this military support package, but it is substantial,” said Pål Jonsson, Sweden’s minister of defense.

Sweden’s $290 million package may include the military’s RBS 70 (Robotsystem 70) man-portable air-defense system which is designed for anti-aircraft warfare in all climate zones. RB 70 missiles can also be deployed in some of the armed forces’ other missile systems.

The latest MAP is not expected to include the Archer Artillery System self-propelled guns. The howitzers might form part of a future donation. In June 2022, Sweden’s Ministry of Defense signed a letter of intent to purchase 24 additional Archer 155-millimeter mobile howitzers from BAE Systems Bofors AB.

Danish-delivered military support deliveries for Ukraine have included shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons and Harpoon long-range anti-ship missiles sourced from the Danish Defense Forces’ (DDF) stocks. In August, the Danish government approved a new MAP valued at $141.2 million to finance weapons procurement and training.

For its part, Norway has allocated $443 million to a financially reinforced military support program for 2022-2023. In addition, the country plans to contribute $1 billion in civilian and humanitarian aid to Ukraine over the same period.

Norway’s $443 million MAP will cover the procurement of artillery, Arctic weather combat equipment and other defensive weapons systems, in addition to training programs for Ukrainian soldiers. Norway is also providing funds to weapons acquisition programs led by NATO, the European Union and Britain.

In MAPs completed since March 2022, Norway has donated over 4,000 M72 anti-tank weapons and an air-defense-system weapons from the Norwegian Armed Forces’ (NAF) stockpiles to Ukraine. MAP shipments to Ukraine have included 14 Iveco LAV III Armored Vehicles and 23 self-propelled artillery vehicles (M109 howitzers), including associated gear, spare parts and ammunition.

In addition, Norway entered agreements to purchase M72 anti-tank weapons and M141 rocket launchers, in deals totaling $30 million, for direct onward supply to Ukraine