Sweden to send Ukraine infantry fighting vehicles
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -The Swedish government announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine on Thursday that will include armoured infantry fighting vehicles and the Archer artillery system.
The package is worth 4.3 billion Swedish crowns ($419 million) and will also include light, portable NLAW anti-tank weapons, mine-clearing equipment and assault rifles.
"Ukraine's victory in this war is of almost indescribable importance," Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a news conference, adding that Ukraine was fighting for the freedom of all of Europe.
"That's one of biggest reasons to why so many countries are doing so much to help Ukraine right now. The moral support is important, but also our joint security," he said.
Sweden will send about 50 of its tracked and armoured Type 90 infantry fighting vehicles. It can be used to transport up to eight infantry soldiers and is equipped with a 40 millimetre automatic canon.
The government did not specify how many Archer systems it would supply.
Sweden has 48 Archer systems, which is a vehicle-mounted self-propelled gun howitzer made by Bofors BAE that Ukraine has long expressed an interest in adding to its arsenal as it seeks to repel Russian forces.
Ahead of the package presented on Thursday, Sweden had announced around 5 billion Swedish crowns of military aid to Ukraine as well as several instalments of humanitarian supplies.
Sweden currently holds the rotating EU presidency and has applied to join the NATO alliance along with Finland, a move that abandons decades of non-alignment following the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special military operation".
Later this week, defence leaders from around 50 countries and NATO will gather at Germany's Ramstein Air Base to discuss how to supply Kyiv with more weapons.
The focus is expected to be on whether Germany will send its Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine or at least approve their transfer from third countries.
(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard; Editing by Kim Coghill)