Zelenskiy Expresses Gratitude to France, Awaits Mirage Jets for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked France for its support, hoping to see French Mirage 2000 jets in Ukrainian skies soon. Speaking at the D-Day anniversary, he highlighted the importance of Western unity and military aid in combating Russian aggression. France plans to train Ukrainian pilots and supply warplanes.


Reuters | Paris | Updated: 07-06-2024 15:16 IST | Created: 07-06-2024 15:16 IST
Zelenskiy Expresses Gratitude to France, Awaits Mirage Jets for Ukraine
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Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy thanked France on Friday for its support and said he hoped to see French jets in Ukrainian skies soon, a day after President Emmanuel Macron said France plans to provide Mirage 2000 warplanes to Ukraine. Zelenskiy has long expressed his frustration at how long Western allies are taking to make key decisions on military support for Ukraine and actually send help in its war against Russia's invasion.

"I'm sure that a day will come when Ukraine will see the same jets in our skies that we saw in Normandy skies yesterday," Zelenskiy told French lawmakers, in reference to World War Two aircraft that flew over commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, in which he took part on Thursday. "Your combat aviation, brilliant fighter jets under Ukrainian pilots' command will prove that Europe is stronger, stronger than evil which dared to threaten it," Zelenskiy said.

"Now, just like 80 years ago, we can prove it — the power of our unity, the power of our alliance, the power of our shared ideals." At the D-Day anniversary, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Western powers to stay the course with Ukraine and not surrender to Russian tyranny.

French President Emmanuel Macron also made a link with D-Day, promising Europe would not weaken in its support. He did not specify how many Mirages France would provide, by when or under what financial terms. He also said France has proposed Ukrainian pilots be trained in France from this summer. The Mirage 2000 is a multi-role, single-engine jet fighter.

"We do everything for our cooperation to be remembered ... in 80 years as a victorious battle, it's so important," Zelenskiy said. In a sign that enthusiasm to help Ukraine may be faltering, the National Assembly, which gave Zelenskiy several standing ovations, seemed far less full that when the Ukrainian leader first addressed them in March 2022.

"Can Putin win the war? No, because we have no right to lose," Zelenskiy told the lawmakers. "Can this war end on the lines that exist now? No, because there are no lines for evil, not 80 years ago, not now."

Ukraine's military leaders openly admit that the battlefield situation on the eastern front has deteriorated. Two years of war have sapped Ukraine's ammunition and manpower, while the country's failed counter-offensive last year sank morale. Though the U.S. Congress finally greenlit a long-delayed $60 billion U.S. military package in April, analysts say that a severe worldwide shortage of artillery shells means Ukraine is likely to be outgunned by Russia for the remainder of the year as Kyiv's allies ramp up production.

On Thursday, at the D-Day anniversary, Zelenskiy shared an emotional moment with a veteran. "You're the saviour of the people," a veteran in a wheelchair said, kissing Zelenskiy's hand.

Zelenskiy, who embraced the veteran, kneeled to be at the same level and responded: "No, you saved Europe."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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