Sweden to supply Ukraine with anti-ship missiles
Sweden is set to supply Ukraine with anti-ship missiles, small arms, and light anti-tank weapons while providing additional financial assistance to Kiev as the conflict rages in the country, top government officials announced on Thursday.
“This help could buttress Ukraine’s defense potential, which is now in a serious situation. Supporting Ukraine is a matter of solidarity and quite important for Sweden’s security,” Swedish Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said at a joint press conference with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist.
According to Hultqvist, Ukraine has been asking for “political, financial, and military support” to boost its defense capabilities and fend off Russian forces for a long time. In February, Stockholm accommodated this request, sending military supplies that included 5,000 anti-tank weapons, helmets, and body armor.
The new package, however, will include not only semi-automatic rifles Barrett M82 with ammunition and another 5,000 anti-tank weapons, but also anti-ship missiles Robot 17, a weapon that Kiev specifically requested, Hultqvist said.
“The government has proposed that Sweden assists Ukraine with Robot 17, automatic rifles Barrett M82 with ammunition, another 5,000 anti-tank weapons, and additional financial means that will go to the fund that NATO has established in support of Ukraine’s armed forces,” he added. “Anti-ship missiles are something that Ukraine has specifically asked for. Robot 17 is a very capable system that will help to boost Ukraine’s ability to fight back against Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion.”
Meanwhile, Mikael Damberg pointed out that the crisis in Ukraine remained “very serious.” Therefore, the Swedish finance minister has announced a package of economic assistance totaling 578 million krona ($59 million), which will be received by the Ukrainian Central Bank. Another $6.1 million is proposed to be sent to the fund established by NATO.
The Swedish government also intends to funnel more than $10 million into Ukraine’s civil sector. “This may cover fire-fighting equipment, vehicles, tents, and medical equipment,” Damberg said.
Sweden and Finland have previously formally applied to join NATO amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Although the two countries were warmly welcomed by the bloc’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, their bid was effectively blocked by Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleging that Sweden and Finland support Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.