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France24: Zelensky continues his tour of European countries in the hope of getting approval for the fighter jets Ukraine needs

9-2-2023 |

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday made his first visits to Britain and France since the Russian invasion almost one year ago, pressing his allies for more weaponry and in particular fighter jets.

Making just his second venture abroad since the invasion, Zelensky enjoyed a ceremony-filled day in London where he met King Charles III and addressed parliament.

His visit to France -- which by contrast appeared to have been squeezed in at the last minute -- saw him hold a late dinner meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, joined by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

But despite the contrast in formats, Zelensky's demands were the same -- more weapons, especially fighter jets and longer range missiles, and faster deliveries.

"The sooner Ukraine gets long-range heavy weaponry, the sooner our pilots get planes, the sooner this Russian aggression will end and we can return to peace in Europe," he said in Paris.

"There is very little time," he warned.

Macron pledged that France would help Ukraine to victory in fighting the Russian invasion and would press on with efforts to deliver arms.

France is "determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights," he said.

He added: "Ukraine can count on France, its European partners and its allies to win the war. Russia cannot and must not prevail."

Scholz said Germany and its partners had backed Ukraine "financially, with humanitarian aid and with weapons", adding: "We will continue to do so as long as necessary."

Zelensky has on occasion shown impatience with Macron, who held frequent telephone talks with President Vladimir Putin even after the invasion and even expressed concern that Russia should not be humiliated in any final settlement.

But Macron has now indicated France wants to support Ukraine until it emerges victorious in the conflict and announced it would send light tanks in a move that prompted Germany to follow suit with battle tanks.

"I believe he has changed," said Zelensky in an interview with the Le Figaro daily published ahead of the talks.

"And that he changed for real this time. After all, he (Macron) opened the door to tank deliveries."

As the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion looms and Ukraine braces for a new Russian offensive in the east, Zelensky is pushing ever harder for friendly nations to send tanks, jets and missiles.

Britain said it would consider the proposal for combat aircraft in the "long term", although the United States and other NATO allies remain wary of getting more embroiled in the conflict for fear of provoking Russia.

On Tuesday, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands promised that Ukraine would get at least 100 tanks in the coming months, as the German defence minister visited Kyiv.

Germany recently gave the green light for Leopard battle tanks to be sent to Ukraine after a tireless campaign by Zelensky and allied countries.

After the hurried meeting in Paris, which the Ukraine leader himself described as spontaneous, Zelensky is due to meet EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

Source: France24