One year of war in Ukraine
News story | Date: 23/02/2023 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
24 February 2022 will be remembered as a watershed moment. The regime in Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of a peaceful neighbouring country, violating the UN Charter and the rules-based international order. Norway’s security, too, has come under threat. As we mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Norwegian Government wishes to pay tribute to the Ukrainian people, who are fighting a fierce battle both for their own country and for freedom and democracy in Europe.
Russia has started a war on a scale not seen in Europe since World War II.
‘The situation is frightening and is giving rise to great uncertainty. President Putin expected our resolve to support Ukraine to weaken in the face of an energy crisis, high electricity prices and rising costs of living. But he was wrong. Supporting Ukraine remains a high priority for Norway. Ukraine has not wavered in its determination and to defend itself against Russia's aggression. The Ukrainian people have maintained remarkable resilience,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
‘For a full year now, we have firmly supported the Ukrainian people’s fight to win back their country. Our aim is to achieve peace based on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is not just an existential matter for Ukraine – it is also essential for safeguarding our future in a peaceful, democratic Europe,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
One year after the invasion, there is nothing to suggest that Putin will change his strategy or reduce his attacks. The horrors of Russia’s war are growing increasingly worse, and becoming more brutal and more arbitrary.
‘Ukrainians are unable to keep warm in the winter temperatures because 40 % of the country’s power generation and transmission facilities have been damaged. Five million children have no access to school or day-care because the buildings have been destroyed. The Norwegian chair of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, Erik Møse, told me that there is documentation of sexual violence against victims from 4–82 years of age. We must continue to help Ukraine in its fight against this brutality,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
The war in Ukraine may last for a long time. The scale of need is enormous and is increasing. Norway is prepared to provide support in a long-term perspective. Our support to Ukraine is vital not only for the Ukrainian people, but also for the security of Norway and Europe.
Norway has contributed extensively to the effort to support Ukraine. Last year, we provided NOK 10.7 billion in civilian, humanitarian and military support. More information about Norway’s support to Ukraine can be found here: Norwegian support to Ukraine and neighbouring countries - regjeringen.no.
The Norwegian Government has now secured broad political support for a multi-year support programme for Ukraine totalling NOK 75 billion. The five-year Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine will provide NOK 15 billion annually in the period 2023–2027. More information about the Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine can be found here: Broad political agreement on multi-year programme for Ukraine - regjeringen.no.
Much of the funding will be channelled through large, established organisations that we know well and that have a proven ability to deliver. In addition, Norway is donating what it can of military equipment to Ukraine. These donations are coordinated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). This only accounts for approximately 5 % of Norwegian assistance to Ukraine.
The civilian support provided by Norway encompasses emergency assistance to repair power lines, secure supplies of gas, food and water, and to evacuate the sick and wounded as well as funding to maintain Ukraine’s critical government services. Assistance is being provided to both Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova.
Norway is collaborating closely with the Ukrainian authorities, other donors, the UN, the EU, the World Bank and humanitarian organisations on coordinating relief efforts. This is essential to ensure that aid reaches those who are most in need, and that it is used as effectively as possible.
According to the UN, some 17.6 million people are in need of assistance, and the organisation is seeking over NOK 55 billion in 2023 for humanitarian aid to help those affected.
‘The war is causing more death, suffering and displacement every day. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in Ukraine. This week, Norway allocated NOK 400 million in funding to UN efforts to assist the many millions of people in need,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
The funding is being allocated for efforts under the newly established UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine created to address humanitarian needs and the needs of refugees. According to the UN, approximately 86 % of Ukrainian refugees are women and children. Norway is in a position to provide flexible funding quickly and has therefore already given an initial pledge of support.
Norway is also supporting developing countries that are particularly severely affected by the global ramifications of the war. Before the war, Ukraine and Russia were both major suppliers of grain, vegetable oil, fertiliser, and oil and gas. Pressure on global supply chains has caused the prices of food, fertiliser and energy to soar.
‘Food insecurity and humanitarian need are growing in various countries in Africa and the Middle East. Norway is therefore providing NOK 5 billion in extraordinary funding this year to alleviate the situation,’ said Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim. The extraordinary funding will be used for humanitarian aid and measures to respond quickly to hunger and food shortages in vulnerable countries.
‘The situation for many low-income countries is extremely difficult now. I am pleased that a broad majority in the Storting has agreed to allocate this extra funding. It will provide critical help to the world's poorest populations. And it will also help to preserve trust between countries. Norway is making it clear that even when we are contending with a war on our own continent, we will not forget how hard war can hit poor people in other parts of the world,’ said Ms Tvinnereim.
Norway has provided military assistance since the fourth day of the war. The Government is assessing on an ongoing basis which kinds of weapons donations will best enable Ukraine to defend itself. Norway contributed substantially in 2022 and will continue to provide support to Ukraine in 2023. This year, half of the assistance provided by Norway will be in the form of military support.
‘We can see that the support Norway is providing is bringing Ukraine closer to its goal. In the current phase of the war, weapons support is of critical importance in enabling Ukraine to regain control of its territory,’ said Foreign Minister Huitfeldt.
Norway will continue to provide assistance to address Ukraine’s enormous humanitarian needs. In addition, it is essential to provide support for the repair of critical infrastructure and to maintain critical government administration services in Ukraine. Over time, an increasing proportion of Norway’s funding will be targeted towards reconstruction.
More than 7.8 million Ukrainians have fled to other European countries due to the war. In 2022, Norway received 35 000 Ukrainian refugees and we are prepared to receive many more this year. Ukrainians arriving in Norway will be welcomed and taken good care of.
The war has revealed the inherent weaknesses of authoritarian regimes and the power of democracy. It is reassuring to see how strong democracy is, here in Norway as well. There is broad political agreement on Norway’s support to Ukraine. Organisations, businesses, local communities and individuals are showing an enormous willingness to help the Ukrainian people. At the same time, the UN, the Red Cross and Norwegian and international humanitarian organisations are undertaking unprecedented efforts to reduce suffering. Each of us can contribute by supporting the established organisations that are working on the ground in Ukraine every day.
Sanctions are one of the most important instruments available to the international community to respond to Russia's violations of international law. Norway has aligned itself with the EU's sanctions against Russia, with a few national adaptations.
The purpose of the wide-ranging packages of sanctions is to reduce Russia’s ability to finance its illegal war in Ukraine. Norway is standing together with the EU and other allies to ensure that the sanctions hit hard and make an impact. Sanctions are being tightened and opportunities to carry out commercial activities with Russia have been significantly curtailed. There is no doubt that the sanctions are having an impact on the Russian economy.
Norway is providing high-quality, much-needed health assistance to Ukraine. Norway is one of the countries that has received the most Ukrainian patients under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). In addition, a third of all patients who have been evacuated to other countries have been transported with help from Norway.
Norway is aware that supporting Ukraine will involve considerable costs, and it will extend over many years. However, the cost of failing to support Ukraine would be far higher. All the countries participating in the joint effort for Ukraine share this view. Other countries, even those facing a more challenging economic situation than Norway, are giving as much as they can. Together, we will help Ukraine to preserve its freedom and support the rebuilding of Ukraine as a democratic, green, European state based on the rule of law.