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France to provide armoured vehicles, missiles to Ukraine

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France’s defence minister said Paris would deliver “hundreds” of armoured personnel carriers and anti-aircraft missiles as part a new aid package to Ukraine in its war against Russian invaders, in an interview published late Saturday. This comes as overnight Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Lviv region killed a man, its governor said on Sunday, while President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his people to endure their third Easter at war.

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“To hold such an extensive front line, the Ukrainian army needs for example our VAB vehicles: it’s absolutely essential for troop mobility,” France ‘s Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu told La Tribune newspaper in an interview published Saturday.

France is currently phasing out its VAB fleet – some of them more than 40 years old – with new Griffon armoured vehicles but Lecornu said the older models were “still operational”.

“We’re talking about hundreds of them for 2024 and early 2025,” he said.

The French government is pushing defence companies to ramp up production to meet the needs of its own army and to ensure continued support to Ukraine after more than two years of war with Russia.

Paris will also supply more Aster 30 anti-aircraft missiles for SAMP/T launchers, similar to the US-supplied Patriot air defence systems. “We are also developing remotely operated munitions in a very short timeframe, to deliver them to Ukraine starting this summer,” Lecornu said.

Fierce strikes in Lviv region

This comes as Ukraine has been under fierce Russian fire over the past weeks and is suffering ammunition shortages. On Sunday, overnight Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Lviv region killed a man, its governor said. Russian cruise missiles targeted critical infrastructure in the western Lviv region and “one man died as a result of the attack”, Governor Maksym Kozytsky wrote on Telegram.

There “may still be people under the rubble” that rescuers were combing through, he said, adding that firefighters had extinguished a blaze that broke out at an administrative building damaged in the raid.

National energy operator Ukrenergo said Russia also targeted high-voltage facilities in the south, forcing emergency shutdowns in the Black Sea city of Odesa and nearby areas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his people to endure their third Easter at war.

“There is no night or day when Russian terror does not try to break our lives,” Zelensky wrote in an Easter Sunday message to Ukrainians on social media after the air force reported downing nine missiles and nine drones overnight.

“But we defend ourselves, we endure, our spirit does not give up and knows that it is possible to avert death. Life can prevail,” he said.

Need for Western aid

Energy consumption restrictions remained in place in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv and Zelensky’s hometown of Kryvyi Rig following earlier Russian attacks, Ukrenergo said on Sunday.

Moscow has intensified strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent weeks, saying it is responding to attacks by Kyiv on Russian border regions.

Kyiv has warned its stocks of munitions are running low, urging in particular Washington to end a political standoff that has frozen a new $60 billion aid package.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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