Monday, 5 September 2022

Joining NATO, Joining The Cause: Finnish Aid To Ukraine

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Finland is renowned for being the happiest country in the world, having the world's best education system, coolest Prime Minister (Sanna Marin), and not feeling the need to brag about help given to other countries. The latter has made an accurate analysis of Finnish military support to Ukraine relatively difficult. What is known is that Finland pledged its first shipment of military aid already by February 27. Since then, at least eleven more batches of military aid have been sent to Ukraine. [1] By January 2023, military aid from Finland was worth more than €590 million. [2]

Interestingly, it would take until August 2022 until the first images of Finnish-delivered armament in use with Ukrainian forces surfaced. [3] [4] These consisted of 120mm 120 KRH 85 92 heavy mortars and 23mm 23 ITK 61 (ZU-23) anti-aircraft guns drawn from the reserve stocks of the Finnish Defence Forces. As Finland did announce the contents of the first two batches of military aid pledged in February, it is known that 1500 66 Kes (M72 LAW) anti-tank weapons and 2500 assault rifles along with 2000 helmets and 2000 bulletproof vests have also been supplied. [5] [6]

Though it so far remains unknown what other weapon types have been delivered to Ukraine, contenders include 152mm 2S5 Giatsint-S self-propelled guns (SPGs), towed artillery, recoilless anti-tank weapons and additional small arms and hand grenades. Even as Finland continues to operate vast numbers of other Soviet-made weapon systems also in service with the Ukrainian Army, the majority of these armament types are either in active use or stored for use with reserve forces in case of a potential conflict on Finland's borders, complicating efforts to supply them to Ukraine.

Ukraine would likely benefit most from another weapon system originally acquired from Russia. Finland received its Buk-M1s (ITO 96) from Russia in the mid-to-late 1990s to pay off Russian debt, but has since replaced them with the Norwegian NASAMS II system. [7] The last practical use of Finland's Buk-M1s occurred in 2015, when one of the system's 9M38 missiles was detonated to simulate the effects of the missile that struck Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine by a Russian Army Buk-M1 system in July 2014. [8]
While the Finnish Defence Forces' Buk-M1s (ITO 96s) have been retired from operational service, they are kept in an operational condition for wartime use with reserve forces. Its mobility and autonomous launch capability enabled by its integrated radar ensure it still has a viable role to play even in today's electronic warfare and SEAD/DEAD-heavy combat environments, making it a sensible choice for operational storage. If Finland's Buk-M1s and/or their associated missiles haven't found their way to Ukraine already, their supply could be a big help in continuing to deny Russia full control of Ukraine's air space, in exchange for what amounts to only a very low financial impact for Finland. The dedication of its assets to the war in Ukraine is also a good way to show it is willing to match pledges made by various NATO members as it prepares to enter the alliance pending ratification by a select few nations.

A Finnish Buk-M1 (ITO 96) SAM system.

The following list attempts to keep track of military equipment delivered or pledged to Ukraine by Finland. The entries below are sorted by armament category (with a flag denoting the country of origin), and due to the confidential nature of Finland's weapons deliveries they can serve only as a lower bound to the total volume of weaponry delivered. Medical supplies are not included in this list. This list will be updated as further military support is uncovered.
(Click on the vehicle or equipment type to get a picture of them)

Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs)

Anti-Aircraft (AA) Guns

Heavy Mortars

Anti-Tank Weaponry


Small Arms


Miscellaneous Equipment

[1] List of foreign aid to Ukraine during the Russo-Ukrainian War
[5] Marin: Finland sending arms to Ukraine, MPs to discuss Nato on Tuesday
[6] Suomi lähettää aseita Ukrainalle – Pääministeri Marin: ”Päätös on historiallinen”
[8] Buk-raketten getest in Finland voor onderzoek MH17 

Recommended Articles:
Vikings For Victory: Norwegian Arms Transfers To Ukraine
Answering The Call: Heavy Weaponry Supplied To Ukraine