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Marin: Finland sending arms to Ukraine, MPs to discuss Nato on Tuesday

Finland will provide anti-tank weapons and assault rifles to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian assault.

File photo of Apilas one-shot anti-tank weapons used by the Finnish Defence Forces. Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen declined to specify which models of equipment would be provided. Image: Ahti Kaario / Yle
Yle News

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) announced on Monday evening that Finland will send arms to Ukraine. The unprecedented decision was made by President Sauli Niinistö based on a cabinet proposal.

Finland will deliver 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 cartridges for the rifles, 1,500 single-shot anti-tank weapons and 70,000 combat ration packages to Ukraine.

Flanked by the foreign and defence ministers, the premier called the decision "historic".

Ukraine has asked EU and Nato countries for specific types of urgent material assistance to help defend itself from Russia's military attack.

First batch to be sent on Tuesday

Marin said that the assistance provided to Ukraine will not undermine Finland's own defence.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) said that the equipment, from storage facilities, could be replaced soon. He declined to specify which exact models of equipment would be provided.

Niinistö met with the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy on Thursday and Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine and possible material assistance.

On Sunday, the president decided that non-lethal aid including bulletproof vests, composite helmets and emergency medical service units would be delivered to Ukraine.

The government also decided to allow Estonia to deliver artillery purchased from Finland to be transferred to Ukraine.

Kaikkonen said the equipment will be sent in two batches. The first will leave on Tuesday, with the arms to be sent on Wednesday. He said that Poland will play a key role in transporting the arms, but would not discuss details for security reasons.

MPs to discuss Nato on Tuesday

Asked about a possible Finnish application to join Nato, Marin said that there will be a parliamentary debate on the issue, beginning on Tuesday.

She pointed out that a citizens' initiative calling for a Nato referendum, which on Friday gathered the required 50,000 signatures for consideration by Parliament.

Marin declined to state her own personal view but said that she understood that many Finns' views on Nato have changed as a result of Russia's hostilities.

A poll published on Yle on Monday indicated that 53 percent of Finns support Nato membership, a dramatic jump from previous polls – and the first time that an Yle poll showed a majority in favour of joining.

About two weeks ago, Marin said that it was "unlikely" but not out of the question that Finland could apply during this legislative term, which ends in early 2023.

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