The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met with the French Defense Minister, Sébastien Lecornuvisiting Kiev.
Increased French military support to Ukraine, including ground-to-air defense against Russian missile attacks, was discussed.
Lecornu said the aid would include equipment for the French army and a 200 million euro fund that would allow Ukraine to buy weapons.
Zelensky: “Thank you, France”
“I met with the French defense minister,” Zelensky said. “We discussed our cooperation, the reconstruction of our country and another step forward in strengthening our air defense. Thank you, France!”
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian army showed reporters one of its French guns in action. The artillery truck with the howitzer Caesar 155mm, mounted on a six-wheeled truck chassis, is highly regarded for its accuracy. It is part of the arsenal of modern weapons supplied to Ukraine by the Western allies.
Andrei, commander of a Caesar artillery truck, explains: “I really like its agility and firing speed. With this vehicle we can easily change position to hit our targets.”
Lavrov: “No dialogue if the annexed regions are not recognised”
In an interview on state television, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov he said Russia’s “perseverance, patience and determination” would help achieve the goals in Ukraine.
Lavrov then reiterated Moscow’s position according to which, in order to resume talks, Kiev should recognize the annexation to Russia of the four Ukrainian regions annexed with the controversial September referendum: Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Lavrov therefore excluded any dialogue on Zelensky’s “peace formula”, which foresees – according to the Ukrainian president and the Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba – acceptance by Russia of a special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
News from the front
In the night, there were new Russian attacks on Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine, after the capital Kiev. This was announced by Mayor Ihor Terekhov. No casualties are reported.
According to “Ukrainska Pravda”, an Iranian drone was shot down in the early hours of the morning by Ukrainian flak in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Morning of missiles
Over 120 Russian missiles were fired on Ukrainian cities this morning, “to destroy critical infrastructure and kill civilians en masse”.
This was stated in a tweet by the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
Explosions are reported by governors and mayors of all major cities of the country: Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Sumy.
The missiles also appear to have caused power outages in the Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Kryvyi Rih regions.
Joint exercises in Belarus
Russia’s Defense Ministry has released footage showing “Russian and Belarusian servicemen from the regional group of forces continuing joint combat training exercises in Belarus, as part of combat coordination activities”.
Serhii Deinekothe head of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, reported that currently Russia has deployed a group of 10,200 troops to Belarus and that this number is not considered sufficient for an attack on Ukraine.
Ukraine: French aid. Lavrov: “Kiev should recognize the annexed regions”