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Zelenskyy in Finland: 'This year will be decisive for victory"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (R) at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (R) at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 3, 2023 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By David Mac DougallEuronews
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After morning talks with the Finnish President, Zelenskyy will meet with other Nordic leaders during Wednesday afternoon.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that 2023 will be "decisive for victory" as his country continues to battle a full-scale Russian invasion. 

Zelenskyy is making a rare foreign visit to Finland for meetings with Nordic leaders, at a summit hosted by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. 

At a Wednesday lunchtime press conference, Zelenskyy said he was working with Finland and other Nordic partners on more military aid packages -- which he described as "crucial" -- and a new round of sanctions which he said the Kremlin was "constantly trying to evade."  

Before he left Kyiv, Zelenskyy released a video Tuesday evening where he said that Ukraine was "closely monitoring how the terrorist state [Russia] is trying to circumvent sanctions, recording each such direction, and working together with our partners to block it." 

"We are preparing a large sanctions package. The decision will be made soon," he added. He also said that he believed this year would be "decisive for victory" as Ukrainian forces plan for a much-anticipated counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces. 

In Helsinki, Zelenskyy referenced Finland's Winter War against Russia in 1939-1940, when it was faced with an opponent of overwhelming size, but still somehow managed to defeat the might of the Russian forces. Zelenskyy said it was an "historic winter fight for freedom" which he compared to "our brave fight now" in Ukraine. 

What else is happening during the visit?

President Zelenskyy arrived in Helsinki on a surprise visit during Wednesday morning.

Despite the short notice, there were still quite many people at the side of the road cheering as his motorcade swept through the city. On a brief walkabout outside the Presidential Palace with Niinistö, Zelenskyy gave a thumbs up to well-wishers who had gathered to show their support. 

The visit of President Zelenskyy to Finland is being hosted by President Sauli Niinistö, who takes the lead on foreign policy issues. The pair already hald bilateral talks late Wednesday morning, and were set to talk about "Ukraine's defence struggle," as well as Finnish support for Ukraine and bilateral relations, according to a statement from the president's office.

Zelenskyy is then attending a working lunch with outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, and he'll also meet the incoming prime minister, Petteri Orpo who is currently holding talks on forming a new government after April's election. 

During the afternoon, President Niinistö will host a Nordic-Ukrainian Summit, which will be attended by Zelenskyy as well as Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson, Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre, Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, and the prime minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

The afternoon summit will discuss "the situation of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the Nordic countries’ continued support for Ukraine, the developments in Ukraine’s relationship with EU and NATO and Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace," according to Niinistö's office. 

Each of the Nordic prime ministers will have the chance to have a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy as well, and will take part in a joint press conference at the end of the day in Helsinki.

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