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Friday, May 20, 2022

Norway offers more help for Ukraine

UPDATED: Norway has boosted its support for Ukraine, but was catching some flak on Monday for the type of “military equipment” it was donating. Instead of sending weapons as requested, Norway was shipping off items like helmets, bullet-proof vests and camping equipment. By Monday evening, weapons were to be included, too.

The Norwegian government is doing what it can to support Ukraine and fight back against attacks ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. From left: Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

Some media commentators criticized the donations, since many other countries were sending arms. Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen insisted, however, that Ukrainian authorities had also asked for protective equipment in addtion to weapons. On Monday Norway’s defense department was filling a flight with 5,000 helmets, 15,000 rations kits, protective vests, medical and communication equipment, sleeping bags and clothing. The Reds Party, while backing other measures to defend Ukraine from attacks by Russia, objected to sending weapons since Norway shares a border with Russia.

After another day of dramatic events in Ukraine, and more attacks by Russian forces, the tide had turned. Norway is now donating up to 2,000 anti-tank defense weapons to Ukraine. “The government has decided that Norway will offer Ukraine weapons support to defend the country against the military attacks from Russia,” said Støre on Monday evening. “We therefore adopt the same approach as other close allies and Nordic countries.”

The government has dramatically increased its humanitarian aid to Ukraine, though, setting aside up to NOK 2 billion (USD 230 million). Norway had already committed NOK 250 million to be allocated through the UN’s refugee program, the Red Cross and the UN’s humanitarian fund. Now that’s being raised to NOK 2 billion.

“Russia’s acts of war are leading to great civilian losses and suffering, destroying fundamental infrastructure and forcing people to flee,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said at a press conference Sunday evening.

He also announced that Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund known as the Oil Fund will be pulling out of investments in Russia. The government asked the unit of the central bank that controls the Oil Fund (Norges Bank Investment Management, NBIM) to immediately freeze all investments in Russia and eventually sell them off. “Given the situation now, we think it’s necessary to pull the Oil Fund out of Russia,” said Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

Norway is also, as previously reported, attaching itself to “historically powerful” sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. The sanctions are aimed at isolating Russia financially by, for example, taking some of Russia’s banks out of the international payment system Swift, thus hindering trade with other countries. The sanctions will also hurt lots of Norwegian and international businesses, but have been widely accepted as “worth it.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

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