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France, Ukraine to Sign Security Agreement


FILE - Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron pose for a picture during a meeting on the sidelines of the European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain Oct. 5, 2023.
FILE - Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron pose for a picture during a meeting on the sidelines of the European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain Oct. 5, 2023.

France and Ukraine are set to sign a bilateral security agreement Friday when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office announced the development Thursday but did not provide details about the deal.

During Zelenskyy’s visit, Macron will “reaffirm France’s determination to continue to provide unwavering support to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, over the long term and with all its partners,” the French presidency said.

Zelenskyy’s office said he will also travel Friday to Germany for talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The meetings come amid a flurry of international gatherings this week, including the Munich Security Conference Saturday that Zelenskyy is due to attend.

NATO defense chiefs met Thursday in Brussels to discuss how to sustain their support for Ukraine in its battle against a full-scale Russian invasion that began nearly two years ago.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that allies need to increase their defense production “to ensure that Ukraine gets the weapons, the supplies, the ammunition it needs.”

Stoltenberg said he also expects the U.S. Congress to agree on a new support package for Ukraine after funding ran out in December.

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The NATO chief told reporters that “supporting Ukraine is not a charity, supporting Ukraine is an investment in our own security.”

Ukraine said Thursday a wave of Russian missiles targeted several Ukrainian regions, while in the Russian city of Belgorod officials said a Ukrainian attack killed at least five people.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the Belgorod regional governor, said another 18 people were hurt in the Ukrainian attack.

Russia’s defense ministry reported destroying 14 rockets in the Belgorod area, which is located near the border with Ukraine and has been the site of repeated Ukrainian attacks.

Aftermath of a Russian missile attack in Lviv
Aftermath of a Russian missile attack in Lviv

Ukrainian officials said the Russian missiles fired Thursday injured at least six people and damaged multiple buildings.

Maksym Kozytskyi, the regional governor of Lviv in western Ukraine, said three people were hurt there as the missiles damaged an infrastructure building and several homes.

Officials in the city of Zaporizhzhia reported four people wounded, with damage to a school and a shop from the Russian attack.

Russian missiles also targeted the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where officials said air defenses were able to shoot down all of the missiles and that there were no reported injuries.

The Ukrainian air force said Russia launched a total of 26 missiles, with Ukrainian air defenses destroying half of them.

Stoltenberg said Thursday a Ukrainian attack that destroyed a Russian navy large landing ship in the Black Sea showed the impact of support for Ukraine’s military.

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“Just yesterday, the Ukrainians were able to strike successfully a Russian naval ship, and this demonstrates the skills and the competence of [the] Ukrainian armed forces, also in conducting deep strikes behind Russian lines,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

The Ukrainian military identified the Russian ship as the Caesar Kunikov, and said it was in the waters near the Crimean city of Alupka at the time of the attack.

When asked about the attack Wednesday, the Kremlin would not comment.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed several ships in Russia’s Black Sea fleet since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago.

Ukraine’s military intelligence shared a video on Telegram purportedly showing several naval drones approaching a large vessel, followed by a large explosion.

“Once again, the Ukraine shows its prowess in integrating unmanned systems tactically to have a strategic effect,” retired Rear Adm. Joseph A. DiGuardo told VOA’s Ukrainian Service. “The implications of the success of this type of maritime strike on technically advanced navies around the world is immense and will require many to rethink vessel protection and threat mitigation.”

Ukrainian drone strikes in the Black Sea “are a major deal,” a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters Wednesday.

“The fact that the Russian navy cannot operate in the Black Sea at will, compared to how it could operate at the beginning of this war is a fundamental shift in the strategic position in the Black Sea region.”

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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