France’s defense minister visits Kyiv to discuss further military support
By Constant Méheut
French defense minister Sébastien Lecornu visited the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Wednesday for the first time since the war began, a trip that follows a pledge by President Emmanuel Macron of France to send more weapons to Ukraine and comes as efforts to reach a peaceful settlement appear to be deadlocked.
In Kyiv, Lecornu laid a wreath at a monument to Ukrainians who have died in the war. He was scheduled to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, to discuss further military support.
France has committed about 500 million euros ($530 million) in military assistance, supplying Ukraine with long-range cannons, air defense missile batteries and rocket launchers. Still, it lags far behind other European nations, including Britain and Germany, whose military support adds up to billions of dollars, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
Last week, after Russia unleashed more barrages of missiles on Ukrainian cities, Macron said that France was working on sending more weapons to Ukraine early next year “so that Ukrainians can defend themselves against these bombings.”
France also hosted a major aid conference this month that involved dozens of countries and resulted in more than $1 billion in aid for Ukraine to repair vital infrastructure.
But many in Ukraine and in Eastern Europe have remained critical of France’s response to the war, drawing a link between its relatively limited military support and Macron’s approach to Russia.
While unequivocally backing the Ukrainian cause, Macron has at times appeared sympathetic to President Vladimir Putin’s concerns over NATO, saying that any peace talks should consider providing security guarantees to Russia — an approach that Ukraine strongly rejects and that has infuriated some Western allies.
Both Russia and Ukraine have said they are open to peace talks, but only on terms that are unacceptable to the other.