Norway’s prime minister proposed Monday a $7.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, the latest show of support from Ukraine’s European allies as it fights off a Russian invasion.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told reporters after meeting with opposition leaders that the aid would be delivered over a five-year period, and that his government wants to add additional support for other countries affected by the conflict.
“We are proposing that Norway gives a binding and lasting contribution to Ukraine,” he said.
Norway’s parliament must approve the aid package.
The Financial Times reported Monday the European Union is preparing for a potential visit this week by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the European Parliament.
EU leaders traveled last week to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian leaders to discuss the EU’s response to Russia’s invasion as well as Ukraine’s application to join the European Union.
Since Russia launched its invasion nearly one year ago, Zelenskyy has made only one known trip outside of Ukraine.
Ukraine said Sunday it is planning for the possibility of a major Russian offensive this month to coincide with the anniversary of Russia’s February 24 invasion, but says it has the reserves to hold off Moscow’s forces.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told a news conference that Russia could launch the attack for “symbolic” reasons, even though Moscow’s forces are not prepared militarily.
“Despite everything, we expect a possible Russian offensive in February,” Reznikov said. “This is only from the point of view of symbolism; it’s not logical from a military view. Because not all of their resources are ready. But they’re doing it anyway.”
Reznikov said the Russian offensive would likely be launched in the east – where fighting has been centered for months and Russia is trying to capture all the heavily-industrialized Donbas region — or possibly the south, where it wants to widen its land corridor to the occupied Crimean Peninsula that it illegally annexed in 2014.
The defense chief estimated that Russia had 12,000 troops stationed at Belarusian military bases, a number too small to launch a significant attack into Ukraine’s north.
Russian forces have been making incremental advances in the east as Moscow tries to capture the embattled city of Bakhmut, where fighting has raged for weeks.
The United States and other Western governments have pledged billions of dollars in new military assistance, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to help Ukraine withstand a new attack as well as to help Kyiv launch a counteroffensive.
“Not all of the Western weaponry will arrive in time,” Reznikov said. “But we are ready. We have created our resources and reserves, which we are able to deploy and with which we are able to hold back the attack.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
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