Ukraine's Zelenskyy in Paris signs security agreement with France after similar deal with Germany

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement with France hours after he officialised a similar one with Germany.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with French President Emmanuel Macron
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with French President Emmanuel MacronThibault Camus

Paris | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement with France hours after he officialised a similar one with Germany.

The agreements send a strong signal of long-term backing as Kyiv works to shore up Western support nearly two years after Russia launched its full-scale war.

Zelenskyy was greeted in Paris at the Elysee presidential palace by President Emmanuel Macron.

The agreement provides an additional package worth 3 billion euros (USD 3.2 billion) in military aid this year, the largest annual amount France has given to Ukraine since the war began.

“The outcome of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine will be decisive for our interests, our values, our security and our model of society,” Macron said.

“Yes, we must further invest” to support Ukraine “at a greater scale and in the long term,” he added. Macron said he would travel to Ukraine by mid-March.

Zelenskyy's stop in France comes after he met earlier in the day in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said Berlin was providing another 1.1 billion-euro (USD 1.2 billion) package of military aid, including 36 howitzers, 1,20,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and two more air-defence systems.

Ukraine signed last month its first such bilateral agreement with the UK.

“These three agreements ... give me confidence as president that we are not alone,” Zelenskyy said in Paris.

“It's very important that we have specific agreements with all our partners. But I would like to emphasize that this is not an alternative to the United States, we are all together,” he said.

Zelenskyy earlier said more deals were in the works with other countries. “Ukraine has never yet had more valuable and stronger documents,” he said.

The security agreements appear aimed primarily at sending a message of long-term solidarity as Ukraine has gone back on the defensive in the war, hindered by low ammunition supplies and a shortage of personnel.

“Two years after the beginning of this terrible war, we are sending a crystal-clear message today to the Russian president: we will not ease off in our support for Ukraine,” Scholz said. He put his country's deliveries and pledges of military aid so far at a total 28 billion euros.

Macron said the agreements also show Europe's commitments amid concerns that former US President Donald Trump might return to the White House and allow Russia to expand its aggression on the continent.

“Europe's future cannot depend on the American election," Macron said. "This is my idea of sovereignty and strategic autonomy.” Both the French and the German agreements, valid for 10 years, underscore Paris and Berlin's intention to provide “long-term” military support to Ukrainian security. They say Ukraine and its partners “will work together on ensuring a sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring future aggression in the future.”

In case of future Russian aggression, Germany, like France, “would provide Ukraine as appropriate, with swift and sustained security assistance" and modern military equipment as needed, as well as seeking agreement on imposing “economic and other costs on Russia,” the agreements state. They go on to state that Ukraine “will continue to implement an ambitious reform program,” which is essential to its ambitions to join the European Union and NATO.

The agreements follow commitments made by the world's most advanced economies at a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

Zelenskyy's trip came on the same day that Russia's prison agency announced the death of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's fiercest foe.

“Putin has already become one of the bloodiest dictators in European history, but unfortunately his journey is not over,” Zelenskyy said in Paris. “We will work with everyone in the world who is able to bring him to justice." On Saturday, Zelenskyy is set to attend the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of high-ranking security and foreign policy officials, where he plans meetings with US Vice President Kamala Harris, among others.

European allies are appealing to the US Congress in recent days to approve a package that includes aid for Ukraine, a USD 60 billion allotment that would go largely to US defence entities to manufacture missiles, munitions and other military hardware that are being sent to the battlefields in Ukraine. The package faces resistance from House Republicans.

Scholz travelled to Washington a week ago to underscore the urgency of releasing US funding. After meeting Zelenskyy, he renewed his appeal for Congress to release the aid.

“The US is a great power, and its support is essential to the security of Ukraine and its ability to defend itself,” the German leader said. “We are making our contribution, too, but that of the US should not be underestimated.” Zelenskyy said he thinks the majority of the American population supports his country's cause. “I expect that the United States will not drop out,'” he said. “I expect that in all of this a pragmatic American approach to us, protecting the security of the world, will be found." Germany is now the second-biggest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the US, and Scholz has called recently for other European countries to step up with more weapons deliveries.

France announced last month more planned deliveries of its Caesar artillery system to Ukraine and committed to deliver 3,000 155mm shells per month this year as well as around 40 additional long-range Scalp cruise missiles.

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