France’s Macron to travel to Ukraine in Feb to finalise bilateral security deal

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he would head to Ukraine in February to finalise a bilateral security guarantee deal under which Paris would deliver more sophisticated weaponry, including long-range cruise missiles.

The trip comes at a time when political infighting in the U.S. and European Union has held up two major packages of assistance for Ukraine.

Macron said some 40 SCALP long-range missiles and several hundred bombs would be delivered in the coming weeks.

“We are going to deliver a lot more equipment and help Ukraine with what it needs to defend its skies,” Macron told a news conference. “I will go myself to Ukraine in February and finalise these texts.”

France has already delivered about 50 SCALP missiles, which have a range of about 250 km, three times as far as Ukraine’s existing missile capacities.

Macron added that Europeans would in the coming weeks ramp up their support for Ukraine so it could continue to defend itself against Russia because Moscow could not be allowed to defeat Ukraine otherwise the security of Europe would be put at risk.

Ukraine’s defence minister will be in Paris on Thursday, France’s defence ministry said on Tuesday.

G7 countries in June unveiled an international framework for the long-term security of Ukraine to boost its finances and defences against Russia with a view to deterring Moscow from future aggression, officials said.

Ukraine has lobbied for long-term security commitments from its main backers. France has been negotiating bilaterally since June, but there has been scant detail on what countries are willing to do and with the war entering its third year there are questions about how committed Kyiv’s allies may be.

French diplomatic sources have said the accord would outline the framework for long-term humanitarian aid, support for reconstruction and military assistance.

Kyiv is seeking to maintain flows of military and financial aid from its Western allies after nearly two years of fighting a full-scale Russian invasion.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in Kyiv last week to sign a new security agreement and announce an increase in military funding for Ukraine to buy drones, including surveillance, long-range strike and sea drones.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio)