France, Ukraine to sign security deal soon, French foreign minister says

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 1:44 PM

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) – France and Ukraine are soon likely to sign a bilateral agreement on security commitments, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on Wednesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron was expected to finalise a security deal in Ukraine this month, but he postponed the trip for security reasons.

“A bilateral accord is in discussion and will be signed probably soon between the President Emmanuel Macron and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy,” Sejourne told a hearing in parliament.

As Kyiv seeks NATO membership and fights a two-year-old Russian invasion, diplomats have said Zelenskiy could conclude bilateral security assurances with France and Germany later this week after beginning talks in July.

The French accord would outline the framework for long-term humanitarian and financial aid, support for reconstruction and military assistance. According two diplomats aware of the talks, France would announce a 200-million-euro fund for civilian projects to be carried out by French companies.

However, it would stop short of providing specific financial commitments on weapons’ deliveries as Paris would need to return to parliament for approval, diplomats said.

Macron is likely instead to make public announcements. He has already said Paris would send a regular supply of air-to-surface missiles and 40 additional long-range cruise missiles.

“In the coming days we will give numbers and give you transparency on the military and the civilian aid,” Sejourne said. He did not clarify if he meant aid within the accord or France’s overall support to Ukraine.

France has faced criticism from some allies over its unwillingness to make its military commitments to Ukraine public with many quoting a Kiel Institute report that said France was the 12th biggest contributor of military and civilian aid to Ukraine at 1.7 billion euros.

French officials have said the Kiel Institute’s calculations are skewed and have repeated that the quality of weapons from France has been crucial for Kyiv’s war effort.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Mark Heinrich and Cynthia Osterman)