Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made an unannounced visit to Finland for talks with the leaders of five Nordic countries as he tries to secure greater firepower for his effort to dislodge Russian troops from occupied areas of Ukraine.
He told a Helsinki news conference that Ukraine’s counter-offensive is coming “very soon”, and this year “will be decisive… for victory”.
The Nordic countries — Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland — have been among Kyiv’s strongest backers since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
“There is still an urgent need for military support to ensure that the Ukrainians stand as strong as possible in the fight against Russia,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a statement.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, another of the summit attendees, said: “Here in the north, we have a more unpredictable and aggressive Russian neighbour, and it is important that we discuss together how to face this new situation.”
The talks came a day after US officials said Washington plans to send Ukraine about 300 million dollars (£240 million) in additional military aid, including an enormous number of artillery rounds, howitzers, air-to-ground rockets and ammunition.
The weapons will all be pulled from Pentagon stocks so they can go quickly to the front lines, according to officials.
Elsewhere, Russia used Iranian-made drones during its third attack on Ukraine’s capital in six days.
Meanwhile, a massive blaze broke out at an Russian oil depot, local officials said on Wednesday.
The depot erupted in flames in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, east of the Russian-held Crimean peninsula, according to Krasnodar governor Veniamin Kondratyev.
He did not say what caused the fire, which was described as extremely difficult to put out, but some Russian media outlets said it was likely to have been caused by a Ukrainian drone attack overnight.
Military analysts think Ukraine is targeting supply lines in the Russian rear while gearing up for a possible counter-offensive amid improving weather conditions and as it receives large amounts of weapons and ammunition from its western allies.
Explosions have also derailed a Russian freight train and hit an airfield in recent days. Last weekend, a massive fire erupted at an oil depot in Crimea after it was hit by two Ukrainian drones, a Russia-appointed official said.
In anticipation of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, Russian forces are focused on destroying logistical routes and centres of Ukraine’s armed forces with long-range strikes, Kyiv military officials say.