Macron promises Ukraine military, humanitarian aid in phone call

Macron promises Ukraine military, humanitarian aid in phone call

Macron hopes for a negotiated solution to the conflict.

President Emmanuel Macron has promised his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that France will strengthen military and humanitarian aid to Kiev.

During a phone conversation on Saturday, less than a week after Macron re-election, Zelensky thanked the French leader for providing Ukraine with major military equipment that contributed to Ukrainian resistance, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

Macron said that support will continue to be strengthened, as will the humanitarian assistance provided by France. The presidential office said that France has already provided Ukraine with more than 615 tons of equipment, including medical equipment, generators for hospitals, food, household goods and emergency vehicles. Zelensky recently said that Ukraine's partners have finally begun to provide Kiev with some heavy weapons that it requested. This was after France and Canada announced their plans to send long-range artillery systems for the first time.

Russia has warned the West against pumping Ukraine with weapons, saying it would only lead to a prolongation of the conflict. Moscow has made it clear that it would consider any foreign weapons on the Ukrainian territory as a legitimate target.

Macron promised Zelensky that a team of French experts would continue to gather evidence related to crimes allegedly committed within the framework of Russian aggression. During the phone call, which lasted approximately an hour, the French leader reiterated his desire to work actively during his second term to restore the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in close coordination with European allies.

Macron reiterated his deep concern over Russian bombardments of Ukrainian cities and the unbearable situation in Mariupol despite repeated calls to the Russian president to respect international humanitarian law. Moscow denies it has ever targeted civilians in Ukraine and claims that the Azovstal steel plant remains the last stronghold under Ukrainian control in Mariupol, with the fighters of the notorious Neo-Nazi Azov regiment and other units holed up there.

The French President expressed his hope for progress in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, saying the talks could bring a lasting solution to the conflict and a return to security on the European continent. The peace negotiations are stalled, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accusing the West of making Kiev backtrack on previously agreed terms with Moscow.

Since the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Macron has been one of very few Western leaders who have continued direct dialogue with President Vladimir Putin. He has insisted on stepping up sanctions against Moscow, including tougher restrictions on Russian energy.

Russia sent troops to Ukraine in late February, after Kiev didn't implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied it plans to retake the two republics by force.