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Finland's Haavisto joins foreign ministers from Nordics, Baltics in Kyiv

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) says Finland is committed to helping Ukraine through the worsening energy crisis.

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) visited Ukraine on Monday. Image: Kostjantyn Iljanok / Yle
Yle News

Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto (Green), made an official visit to the Ukranian capital city of Kyiv on Monday alongside a delegation of EU foreign ministers .

The group includes foreign ministers from four Nordic countries as well as from all three Baltic countries.

Speaking to Yle in Kyiv, Haavisto noted that Monday's visit marks the largest ministerial delegation to arrive in Kyiv since Russia's invasion on 24 February.

"We have seen the dramatic bombings and destruction of civilian targets in Ukraine in recent days. We want to show solidarity with Ukraine and talk about the contributions that Finland and other countries have made and are still making to Ukraine," Haavisto told Yle.

The foreign ministers from four of the five Nordic states as well as from all three Baltic countries in Kyiv's Saint Michael's Square on Monday. Image: Kostjantyn Iljanok / Yle

The Baltic countries in particular have actively helped and supported Ukraine throughout the war. Per capita, Estonia has provided more support to Ukraine than any other country.

Haavisto pointed out that Finland has also played a part in assisting Ukraine.

"Finland has given around 300 million euros to Ukraine this year, of which 200 million euros was military aid and 100 million euros humanitarian aid," Haavisto said.

Finland committed to help Ukraine through energy crisis

In addition to financial support, Haavisto noted that Finland has received some 44,000 Ukrainian refugees since the outbreak of war in February, and he added that Finland is committed to providing more protection to Ukrainians if needed.

"The worst fear is that people will be left without heat and water if the electric pumps do not work. It is therefore predicted that more refugees will arrive in the Nordic countries, including Finland," he said.

Russia has been trying to destroy Ukraine's energy infrastructure in recent weeks, and the war-ravaged country is running out of the spare parts required to repair damaged power plants.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked for help from EU member states as the country faces an energy crisis and humanitarian disaster. 

"Finland has already provided generators through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (siirryt toiseen palveluun). We are also currently investigating if parts from old power plants in Finland can be utilised here," Haavisto said.

However, the differences between the electricity systems in Ukraine and Europe pose a significant challenge, although Haavisto said that temporary generators and temporary accommodation can be provided at least. 

Finland to help rebuild Ukraine

Haavisto also told Yle that Finland will be involved in the rebuilding of Ukraine.

"Renovating energy systems, refurbishing buildings, temporary housing - these are all things that Finland can do," Haavisto said, adding that Ukraine can also benefit from the Finnish education system.

"Ukraine has requested specific assistance in education and the reconstruction of the education sector. Ukrainians seem to hope that reconstruction can begin even while this crisis is ongoing. In other words, they do not have to wait until the war is over," he added.

Nato also on the agenda

On the subject of Finland's application to join the Nato military alliance, Haavisto told Yle he believes that its pending membership could also bring concrete benefits to Ukraine.

"Ukraine strongly supports the inclusion of countries like Finland and Sweden in Nato. For the security of Europe as a whole, it is important that Nato expands and can take on new members," he said, but conceded that the accession process for both Finland and Sweden has "taken longer than expected."

"Now we just have to wait for the decisions by Hungary and Turkey. Last week, I was in contact with both Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Both have had their own domestic political reasons for postponing these decisions," Haavisto said.

After his visit to Kyiv, Haavisto will travel on to a meeting of Nato foreign ministers, where Finland and Sweden will participate for the first time as observer members. The meeting will take place in Bucharest, Romania on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The ministers will meet as Ukraine has called for the EU's ninth sanctions package against Russia to be both tough and effective.

"Finland has been in favour of tough sanctions. We are also fine with energy sanctions, we are fine with tightening visa restrictions. More coherent, stronger sanctions against Russia are justified in this situation," Haavisto said. 

"A little light at the end of the tunnel"

Haavisto also told Yle he regrets that there has been almost no room for diplomacy since Russia's invasion.

"Sometimes when you look at this crisis, it seems that diplomacy is dead, because there has been so little contact," he said.

However, he noted that in agreeing and reinstating the grain export agreement, in the exchange of prisoners and during discussions on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, there is hope that the path of diplomacy could still be followed.

"There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. There has been contact, and hopefully trust can be built up in some way so that one day we can go to the negotiating table," he said, adding further that Finland and the Western nations must give "our full support to the conditions and demands set by Ukraine in the negotiations."

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