London, Monday, 28 February 2022 –
For criticizing Russia's attack on Ukraine, neutral countries such as Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, and the Vatican stood by Ukraine's territorial integrity.
As Russia's assault on Ukraine enters its fifth day, a meeting between Ukrainian and Russian representatives began Monday on the Belarus border. Russia acknowledged two separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine.
The international world reacted angrily to the war, with the EU, UK, and US imposing a slew of economic penalties against Russia.
Russia has been further isolated, with its airlines barred from flying in European and Canadian airspace, and a number of its banks barred from using the SWIFT international financial system.
On Saturday, Pope Francis tweeted his support for Ukraine, writing: "Jesus taught us that God's weapons, prayer and fasting, are used to combat the demonic senselessness of violence. May the Queen of Peace keep the world safe from war's folly."
He also reiterated his call for Ukraine to observe March 2 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised his words, saying that "the Ukrainian people feel His Holiness' spiritual solidarity."
On Friday, the pontiff paid a visit to the Russian Embassy in Rome, pleading for "more room for discussions."
Switzerland expressed its support for a diplomatic settlement and urged Russia to pull its soldiers out of Ukraine.
"Switzerland condemns Russia's military action in Ukraine and calls on Russia to cease military aggression and withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory immediately," the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Saturday.
"Switzerland is committed to a political settlement to the issue and is available as a host or facilitator within the framework of its good offices if the conflict parties so want," the statement continued.
Finland, which has a close relationship with NATO but prefers not to be a member, "strongly" denounced the war.
On Sunday, Finland's government decided to send 2,000 bulletproof jackets, 2,000 composite helmets, 100 stretchers, and equipment for two emergency medical care stations to Ukraine.
Finland voted to give Ukraine a total of €14 million ($15.6 million) in new financial aid on February 17 and 24.
On Saturday, Ukraine and Finland celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations, with the Finnish Foreign Ministry declaring Helsinki's "strong" support for Kyiv's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The UN Security Council's call for an Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on Ukraine was welcomed by Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Sunday.
"A essential measure in light of Russia's veto of the UNSC resolution last Friday," Linde remarked on Twitter.
She went on to say that Sweden will provide 5,000 anti-tank weaponry, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 body shields, and 135,000 field rations to Ukraine, as well as a fund of 500 million Swedish krona ($52.9 million) to the Ukrainian army, totaling $148.4 million in support.
Sweden has also decided to prohibit Russian planes from flying in Swedish airspace beginning Monday.
"Wishing courage and strength to Ukraine's authorities and people during this tough period," the ministry tweeted.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg described the current developments in Ukraine as a "dark hour," saying Russia's actions constitute "an impermissible attack" on a sovereign nation in Europe.
"Our worst fears have come true: there is a war on the European continent, and Ukraine has become the victim of yet another act of Russian military aggression," Schallenberg said in a speech to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"This is a flagrant violation of the most fundamental principles of international law and order."
He went on to say that Austria is "completely united" with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
He also asked Russia to lay down its armaments, leave Ukraine, and return to the negotiating table.
On Feb. 21, Ireland expressed its support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, describing Russia's recognition of Ukraine's breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as a violation of international law.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney stated, "Ireland's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, as well as its right to select its own foreign and security policy path, remains steadfast."
"The Russian Federation's decision to recognize the non-government controlled areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as independent entities violates international law, is a flagrant violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity, and represents a clear and unilateral breach of the Minsk agreements," Coveney added.
"A clear and forceful EU reaction, including new sanctions measures," he said, Ireland supports.
(Research and edit by: The Decision Maker – International Relations editors)