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2 Jan, 2024 18:08

France to ‘change approach’ to Ukraine – ambassador

Aid will now focus on boosting domestic weapons production, Gael Veyssiere has said
France to ‘change approach’ to Ukraine – ambassador

Paris intends to bolster Kiev’s own military industry rather than continue sending it equipment, the French envoy to Ukraine, Gael Veyssiere, said on Tuesday.

France has provided Ukraine with over €3.2 billion ($3.51 billion) worth of military aid, including 30 Caesar self-propelled howitzers, light tanks and armored troop carriers, anti-tank and air defense missiles, as well as “several dozen” Storm Shadow long-range missiles, among other arms.

Speaking with the radio broadcaster France Info, Ambassador Veyssiere said that President Emmanuel Macron’s government intends to continue its strategy of supporting Ukraine.

“It will gradually change its nature since the objective is to produce more weapons in Ukraine, rather than proceeding solely through donations or purchases,” Veyssiere said, noting that it will “take a little time” for the policy to shift.

Veyssiere noted that 2024 would be “the year when arms production in Ukraine must increase and when Ukraine must be able, more and more, to count on its own resources, produced on its territory.”

The French ambassador’s comments echoed the line adopted by Washington over the past several months, as the US and its allies depleted their stockpiles of weapons they could send to Kiev. 

For the past several days, however, Russia has targeted Ukraine’s surviving military-industrial complex with heavy drone and missile strikes, in particular the facilities for production of missiles and drones, as well as warehouses storing the long-range missiles supplied to Kiev by the West.

The bombing campaign came after a Ukrainian missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod, which killed 25 civilians – including children – and wounded 100 more. Some of the Western-supplied weapons were used in the attack.

When asked about the Belgorod massacre, Veyssiere insisted that “Ukraine is defending itself.” The French ambassador also noted that Kiev “has the means” to carry out President Vladimir Zelensky’s vow to “ravage” Russia.

“President Zelensky announced that Ukraine would produce one million Ukrainian drones in 2024. And besides, Ukraine is not alone. It is helped by friendly and partner countries who help it equip itself with military equipment,” Veyssiere said.