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AP: France’s defense minister goes to Ukraine to boost support

28-12-2022 |

French Minister for the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu traveled to Ukraine’s capital after a trip to Poland, where he announced a deal Tuesday to sell Poland two French-made military satellites.

In Kyiv, Lecornu laid a wreath at a heroes’ monument to pay homage to Ukrainians who have died defending their country against Russia’s invasion. He was scheduled to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and army officials.

While France has been less vocal about its military support for Ukraine than the United States and Britain, the country has sent a steady supply of weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

France also hosted two aid conferences for Ukraine this month. But many in Ukraine remain critical of the French government’s response to the war because of President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to maintain contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin and seek a negotiated solution.

While both Russia and Ukraine have said they were willing to participate in peace talks, their stated conditions remain far apart.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated Wednesday that any peace plan must acknowledge four regions of Ukraine that Russia illegally annexed as Russian territory, a demand that Kyiv flatly rejects.

Russian forces have pressed their offensive to capture all of eastern Ukraine by concentrating in recent weeks on Bakhmut, a city in Donetsk province. Ukrainian forces were pushing a counteroffensive toward Kreminna, a city in neighboring Luhansk province, in hopes of reclaiming the area and potentially dividing Russia’s troops in the east.

France has supplied Ukraine with a substantial chunk of its arsenal of Caesar cannons, as well as anti-tank missiles, Crotale air defense missile batteries and rocket launchers. It is also training some 2,000 Ukrainian troops on French soil. Macron pledged last week to provide a new injection of weapons in early 2023.

Western military aid to Ukraine has angered Moscow. On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Washington and NATO of fueling the war with the aim to weaken Russia and warned the conflict could spin out of control.

Also on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree banning oil exports to countries that support a $60-per-barrel price cap that was declared by the European Union and Group of Seven countries in a bid to reduce Moscow’s revenue during wartime. The ban takes effect in February and is slated to run through July.

The price cap is higher than what Russian oil has sold for in recent weeks, so the potential effects of Putin’s ban are uncertain.

Russia invaded Ukraine 10 months ago, alleging a threat to its security orchestrated by NATO. The war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions so far, with an end nowhere in sight.

Source: AP