Friday 29 September 2023 - 02:12

UK, French Defense Ministers in Kiev to Discuss Military Aid to Ukraine

Story Code : 1084681
UK, French Defense Ministers in Kiev to Discuss Military Aid to Ukraine
UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps arrived in Kiev on Wednesday and engaged in discussions with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, focusing on enhancing Ukraine's military capabilities, particularly its air defenses.

This meeting preceded Kiev's inaugural Defense Industries Forum, where Ukrainian officials intended to confer with representatives from more than 160 defense firms and 26 countries.

Zelensky expressed his gratitude for the support received from the UK, stating, "I am profoundly grateful to the UK for all the financial, humanitarian, and military support, including crucial long-range capabilities. We discussed further defense cooperation and steps to strengthen Ukraine's air defense."

Shapps, in his first visit to the Ukrainian capital in his current role, emphasized his mission, saying, "I've been back to Kiev this week to ask Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky what he needs to win."

Ukraine has consistently appealed for additional Western weaponry, including longer-range missiles.

The United Kingdom, a steadfast supporter of Ukraine since the onset of the conflict with Russia in February last year, has provided Kiev with advanced military equipment, including next-generation light anti-tank weapons (Nlaws), Challenger tanks, Storm Shadow missiles, and is set to dispatch tens of thousands more artillery shells in the coming months.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu, accompanied by several defense industry officials, also arrived in Kiev for similar discussions. He paid his respects at the Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine at St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery.

The French embassy in Kiev described the day's commencement as "an emotional moment of honoring the heroes in front of the wall of memory of those who fell for Ukraine."

France has previously supplied Ukraine with 155mm TRF1 towed howitzers and two Crotale anti-aircraft systems. Additionally, Paris reportedly provided Kiev with 18 CAESAR self-propelled howitzer systems, Mistral anti-aircraft missile systems, Milan anti-tank guided missile systems, approximately 60 armored personnel carriers, and HDP-2A2 anti-tank mines.

Western allies led by the United States have been furnishing Kiev with weapons and ammunition since Russia initiated its "special military operation" in the ex-Soviet republic in February 2022.

Despite Moscow's repeated warnings to Western leaders against continued arms and munitions supplies to Ukraine, emphasizing that such actions will not deter Russian troops from pursuing their objectives and could prolong the conflict, support for Ukraine remains robust.