Ukraine, “France’s priority” despite the crisis in the Middle East

The head of French diplomacy assured Saturday in kyiv, a few hours after the Russian strikes, that Ukraine would remain “France’s priority”, promising his unfailing support “despite the multiplication of crises”.

“Russia hopes that Ukraine and its supporters will give up before it does. We will not weaken,” said Stéphane Séjourné, at a press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kouleba.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that choosing kyiv for his first official visit, two days after his appointment, was in itself a “message addressed to the Ukrainians”.

He spoke for an hour with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to his entourage, in particular on “European issues linked to the Extraordinary Council of February 1 and the leading role of France so that this summit once again signs united support of the Europeans to Ukraine.

New missile launches

The head of French diplomacy, who replaced at short notice the one he succeeded, Catherine Colonna, on this trip, repeated that “the future of Ukraine (was) within the European Union”. Paris, he said, will weigh “with all its weight” so that kyiv obtains a European aid package of 50 billion euros, for the moment blocked by Hungary’s veto.

President Zelensky thanked him for the “constant” French support given to the “Ukrainian security and defense forces” as well as in the process of his country’s rapprochement with the EU.

Mr. Séjourné’s trip reaffirms the sustainability of French commitment while the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas threatens the stability of the entire Middle East and mobilizes the diplomatic efforts of Western chancelleries.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, France has supported kyiv both militarily and diplomatically but has sometimes been accused of not doing enough.

This visit comes one month before the second anniversary of the Russian invasion and after a counter-offensive by Ukrainian troops considered disappointing.

The Ukrainian Air Force has accused Russia of launching dozens of missiles and drones into Ukraine overnight from Friday to Saturday. It claims that eight missiles were destroyed and that 20 devices “did not reach their target”, diverted by “electronic countermeasures”, out of a total of 40 projectiles.

The Russian army, for its part, claimed to have struck arms factories, claiming to have hit, with Kinjal hypersonic missiles, “all” of its targets among installations of the Ukrainian “military-industrial complex” manufacturing shells, drones and gunpowder. canon.

Local arms production

“Russia continues to deliberately target and strike civilian infrastructure in defiance of international law” and “to be guilty of war crimes”, for his part denounced Stéphane Séjourné.

“We have provided the Ukrainian armed forces with artillery” as well as “anti-aircraft defense” in the past.

“We are entering a new phase of defense cooperation”, to “strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to produce on its soil” the weapons it needs.

Dmytro Kouleba confirmed discussions with a view to “creating the most favorable conditions for interaction between our defense companies”. Cooperation initiated at bilateral level, then with the EU, he specified, envisaging a “joint production” of military equipment on Ukrainian soil.

“In the context of the bombings last night, I would like to remind you that many Western components have already been found in Russian missiles,” also noted the Ukrainian minister, reiterating a point raised several times by his country.

Mr. Kouleba also called for the implementation of “concrete steps” in the first half of 2024 to put Ukraine on the path to membership in the EU.

The visit of the head of French diplomacy follows that of the British Prime Minister in kyiv on Friday. Rishi Sunak announced the signing of a ten-year security agreement between the United Kingdom and Ukraine, described as “unprecedented” by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

After Ukraine, Stéphane Séjourné is expected in Germany on Sunday and in Poland the next day to meet with his counterparts, his entourage said.

This article is originally published on /

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