Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris on Wednesday, where he made a fresh pitch for fighter jets and other advanced weapons.
“France and Germany have the potential to be game changers and that’s how I see our talks today. The sooner we get heavy long-range weapons and our pilots get modern planes … the quicker this Russian aggression will end,” Zelensky said in Paris.
Zelensky said the weapons are “needed for peace,” reflecting recent comments by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who recently claimed sending more arms to Ukraine is the quickest path to peace.
Scholz told Zelensky that Germany and its allies will back Ukraine “as long as necessary” but gave no indication he’s changed his position on sending fighter jets. The German leader ruled out sending advanced aircraft to Kyiv, but he previously ruled out sending heavy tanks, and now Ukraine could receive over 200 German-made Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks.
Speaking alongside Zelensky, Macron said Russia “must not” win the war and that Kyiv could rely on France. “Russia cannot and must not win this war. As long as Russia continues to attack, we will continue to adapt and moderate the necessary military support to preserve Ukraine and its future,” the French leader said.
Zelensky traveled to Paris after visiting London and meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who seemed eager to provide Kyiv with fighter jets. Sunak said Britain would begin training Ukrainians how to fly NATO aircraft this spring, although London has yet to pledge that it will give its own jets to Ukraine.
Zelensky’s visits on Wednesday marked his first known trips outside of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, besides his December visit to Washington DC. On Thursday, he is expected to meet with EU officials in Brussels.