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Finland onboard with Ukraine battle tank aid effort, but unclear to what extent

The Finnish defence minister suggested the country could help Ukraine with tank training and maintenance, as the number of tanks Finland has is limited.

A Leopard 2 main battle tank from the Karelian Brigade of the Finnish Defence Forces opens fire during an exercise. Image: Puolustusvoimat
Yle News

Finland will participate in the combined international effort to supply Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, Interim Minister of Defence Mikko Savola (Centre) said on Wednesday.

"We are preparing this together with the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF)," Savola said. However, Finland's contribution will not be very big, the defence minister pointed out at a press briefing in Helsinki.

According to Savola, Finland has not yet decided how it will participate in the Leopard 2 project.

Earlier on Wednesday, Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto (Green), said that Finland would be willing to cooperate with other countries in sending Leopard 2's to Ukraine "in some way".

No information on Finnish tanks to Ukraine

The defence minister did not comment on how many tanks Finland could possibly send to Ukraine.

"This has to be assessed along with the FDF," he clarified.

He pointed out that details are unlikely to be made public even after the decisions have been taken.

"We are not yet a member of Nato and we cannot compromise on our own defence," Savola said. "Finland's contribution cannot be very large, given our defence capabilities," he reiterated.

Finnish contribution: training and maintenance

In addition to the tanks, Finland's assistance could consist, for example, of tank training and maintenance.

Savola said Finland aims to make such decisions swiftly.

"The FDF will start preparing the groundwork," he told reporters.

On Wednesday, Germany announced plans to allow the export of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to send 14 of them from its own arsenal.

As the manufacturing country, Germany holds the export licences for the Leopards and could have prevented other countries from sending the tanks to Ukraine.

"International decision-making can sometimes feel slow, but now the tracks are moving," Savola emphasised, after pressure had been building for weeks on Germany to make a decision, according to Reuters (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

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