'In our hearts you've already won', Sanna Marin tells Zelenskyy on Ukraine visit
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin has told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine that "in our hearts, you've already won."
Marin made the comments on a surprise visit to Ukraine Friday, her second, where she and Zelenskyy laid flowers at a memorial wall for Ukrainians killed defending their homeland during the Russian invasion.
The Finnish PM, who is heading into a general election at the start of April, visited a memorial for a volunteer fighter who was killed in Bakhmut, and is the first volunteer to receive the title of "Hero of Ukraine."
She told the media that she had visited a military hospital in Kyiv where she met Ukrainian soldiers.
Finland is preparing it's 14th aid package for Ukraine, and while most details are kept under wraps, the foreign ministry separately announced that Finland will give an extra €29 million in humanitarian assistance through the World Food Programme, as well as targeting vulnerable people in particular those with disabilities.
At a Kyiv press conference on Friday afternoon, President Zelenskyy said that "Finns understand what Ukraine is going through with Russia," while Marin stressed that Finland was united in support of Ukraine's cause.
"It is really important to have a face-to-face discussion about the situation in Ukraine. Ukraine needs both humanitarian and financial support, and above all, weapons and heavier armament," the Finnish PM said.
Support for Ukraine's "green reconstruction"
Sanna Marin traveled to Kyiv accompanied by environment minister Maria Ohisalo. The pair arrived by train and were met at the station by Ukraine's deputy foreign minister.
According to the environment ministry in Helsinki, Ohisalo is using the visit to "prepare cooperation to repair the extensive environmental damage caused by Russia's war of aggression."
The environmental damage in Ukraine has been described as a "silent victim" of the war, with official information showing 1.24 million hectares of nature reserve territory affected during the first year of conflict; and 3 million hectares of forests impacted, with 450,000 hectares under occupation or in combat zones.
In July 2022, the Nordic Green Bank Nefco, owned by the five Nordic countries, launched the Green Recovery for Ukraine programme, to support Ukrainian communities to rebuild critical infrastructure in an environmentally sustainable way.
Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden contributed an initial €28 million in funds, while the EU provided an initial €50 million for the programme.