HELSINKI — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Finland on Wednesday to meet with Nordic leaders, a rare trip abroad for the Ukrainian leader amid the Russian invasion.
The Finnish president’s office said in a statement that Mr. Zelensky was invited to hold talks in Helsinki on “the defense struggle of Ukraine and Finland’s support for Ukraine”, among other topics. Zelensky and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto will hold a joint press conference after the talks, he added.
Mr. Niinisto and Mr. Zelensky were also due to meet the Prime Ministers of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland to “discuss the situation of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine” and “support from the Nordic countries to Ukraine”. as well as Ukraine’s relations with the European Union and NATO, the statement said.
Ukraine’s president has made few trips abroad since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Last month, he received a hero’s welcome on an official visit to Poland.
Mr. Zelensky will also travel to Germany for an official state visit on May 13, Berlin police, responsible for providing security, confirmed on Wednesday.
Finland, which shares a long border with Russia, has become NATO’s 31st member state last month. It was a blow to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who has strongly opposed the expansion of the transatlantic military alliance.
Ukraine applied for NATO membership last year, but there are division between NATO countries whether Ukraine should be offered a path to membership at a summit this summer.
Since Ukraine is not a member, NATO only helps coordinate requests for non-military assistance from Kyiv and supports humanitarian aid deliveries. But individual NATO members, such as the United States and Germany, are among the largest providers of military assistance to Ukraine.
Although the Ukrainian leader has already addressed German lawmakers via video link, his trip to Berlin would mark his first in-person visit to Germany since the start of the Russian invasion. Germany is one of the largest donors of military aid to Ukraine.
Besides the official state visit, which will include talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Mr Zelensky is also expected to attend a ceremony in the western city of Aachen, where he will receive the Charlemagne Prize for his work. towards the unification of Europe. Previous recipients of the award include Pope FrancisWinston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Henry A. Kissinger and Vaclav Havel.
Mr Zelensky last visited Berlin in July 2021, where he met Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Christopher F. Schuetze contributed report.