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Firefighters examine the site of a Russian missile attack that hit an apartment building in Kharkiv Kharkiv Regional Governor Oleh Sunyiehubov Office via AP/PA

Zelenskyy signs security deal with France after earlier securing 'historic' German pact

The Ukrainian president’s European visits come at a critical time for Ukrainian troops.


UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a security pact with France, after earlier in the day securing a similar deal with Germany hailed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a “historic step” anchoring support for Kyiv in its raging battle against Russia.

Both agreements are part of Zelenskyy’s drive to shore up help for his forces who are struggling to hold off Russian attacks on the frontline city of Avdiivka.

The agreement with France, signed by Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace, includes a French pledge for up to €3 billion in aid for 2024, after €1.7 billion in 2022 and €2.1 billion last year, officials said.

They said the pact would run for 10 years, and notably strengthen cooperation in the area of artillery.

They said the deal was aimed at helping Ukraine with the “re-establishment of its territorial integrity within its internationally-recognised borders”, and forestall “any renewed Russian aggression”.

The deal is also to help pave the way towards Ukraine’s future integration into the European Union and NATO, the officials said.

“France affirms that a future Ukrainian membership would constitute a useful contribution to peace and stability in Europe,” they said, quoting from the agreement.

With the Ukraine war about to enter its third year, Zelenskyy is set to make further pleas for financing and armaments at the Munich Security Conference tomorrow.

Zelenskyy’s European tour comes at a critical time, with Ukraine facing mounting pressure on the eastern front because of ammunition shortages and fresh Russian attacks.

Fierce fighting raged around the beleaguered eastern frontline town of Avdiivka, which has become a main Russian target ahead of the February 24 anniversary of the invasion.

The long-term future of billions of dollars of Western aid is meanwhile in doubt, with the biggest contributor, the United States, in the throes of an election year.

A possible $60-billion package of military aid has been held up in Washington since last year because of wrangling in Congress.

The EU has also admitted that it will only be able to make good on half of the one million artillery shells it promised to send by March.

But Scholz underlined that the security pact inked in Berlin today illustrates that Germany will “not let up” in supporting Ukraine. He also announced a new €1.1 billion package of immediate military support.

‘For as long as it takes’

“This document … shows that Germany will continue to help Ukraine with its defence against Russia’s attacks. I have often said: for as long as it takes,” said Scholz, who also called the signing of the deal “a historic step”.

The agreement lays out support for a post-war Ukraine to build up a modern army that can repel further attacks from Russia in the future.

“Our security agreement is a truly unprecedented bilateral document,” said Zelenskyy.

G7 nations flagged plans to provide Ukraine with long-term defence support on the sidelines of the NATO summit last July. Alliance leaders failed, however, to set a timetable for Ukraine to join the bloc.

A first agreement had been signed with Britain in January, during Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to Kyiv.

Zelenskyy is seeking to shake off any war fatigue besetting his allies.

© AFP 2024