Ukraine concludes long-term security deals with Sweden and Norway

By Simon Johnson and Anastasiia Malenko

STOCKHOLM/KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy concluded long-term security agreements with Sweden and Norway on Friday, a sign of Western commitment to Ukraine as Kyiv seeks further military support from the West in the war with Russia.

Zelenskiy visited Stockholm as Western nations discuss whether to let Kyiv use weapons provided by them to strike targets inside Russia, which began its full-scale invasion over two years ago is now attacking Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.

He said Ukraine's use of any Western weapon to strike Russian territory was now only "a question of time".

The security deals with Sweden and Norway - as well as Iceland - bring to 15 the number of agreements Kyiv has signed with Western nations. The Nordics are all now NATO countries and have all been staunch supporters of Ukraine.

"You can see that Russia is trying to expand the war ... Only together we can stop the madness from Moscow," Zelenskiy said.

In a joint statement, the Nordic leaders and the Ukrainian president said: "We will jointly strive to increase Ukraine's and our own production capacity to meet Ukraine's needs for battle-decisive munitions."

Under the latest deal, Sweden will transfer two ASC 890 surveillance aircraft - seen as crucial for identifying incoming cruise missiles and drones and identifying targets in the air and at sea - as well as its entire stock of armoured tracked personnel carriers.

"You are literally fighting not only for your own freedom but also for our freedom and our security," said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

But Stockholm will not yet transfer Saab Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, as discussions continue over whether Kyiv should instead receive U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to be in step with the air capabilities of NATO allies.

Sweden joined the Western military alliance this year and does not have such jets.

Ukraine signed a 10-year security deal with Norway, which is in addition to its existing bilateral aid programme that provides $7 billion over five years in combined military and humanitarian aid.

Under the additional deal, Norway, a neighbour of Russia in the Arctic, will focus on maritime and air defence needs and would be "open" to the Norwegian defence industry localising production in Ukraine, seen as a way to speed up delivery of defence supplies.

Norway is home to Nammo, a top European producer of ammunition, as well as Kongsberg Gruppen, which produces the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) the Ukrainians have been using.

Ukraine also signed a long-term security agreement with Iceland on Friday. Denmark and Finland signed 10-year security agreements with Ukraine in February and April respectively.

($1 = 10.5521 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Anastasiia Malenko in Kyiv, Simon Johnson and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, with Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen; Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Louise Rasmussen, David Holmes and Timothy Heritage)