Ukraine war briefing: Russia warns France against deploying troops to Ukraine

Ukraine war briefing: Russia warns France against deploying troops to Ukraine

  • Russia’s defence minister warned his French counterpart against deploying troops to Ukraine in a rare phone call on Wednesday, reports Associated Press (AP). Sergei Shoigu told French defence minister Sébastien Lecornu that if Paris follows up on its statements about the possibility of sending a French military contingent to Ukraine, “it will create problems for France itself”, according to a statement from the Russian defence ministry. It didn’t elaborate. French president Emmanuel Macron said in February that the possibility of western troops being sent to Ukraine could not be ruled out. French officials have since clarified that the suggestion concerned using troops for training and other operations away from frontlines. The call marked the first such contact between Russian and French defence ministers since October 2022, according to AP.

  • France has denied Russia’s claim of a discussion on potential Ukraine talks, according to Agence France-Presse. Russia said that Shoigu and Lecornu discussed the potential for talks on the Ukraine conflict during the phone call on Wednesday, but it’s a claim that Paris immediately denied. “France neither accepted nor proposed anything of the sort” on the conflict, the source told AFP.

  • Russian drones hit residences early on Thursday in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing five, including three rescue workers in a repeat strike, the mayor and the regional governor said. Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said four people died at the scene of one attack, at least three of them rescue workers killed after they had arrived at the scene and a new strike occurred. Five people were injured. A fifth person was killed in a strike on private homes in another city district, Terekhov said. Kharkiv’s regional governor, Oleh Synehubov, said a total of four strikes had hit the city and the top floors of one apartment building had been damaged. Reuters was unable to independently verify the accounts.

  • Finland’s president on Wednesday signed a 10-year security deal with Ukraine in Kyiv where president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he believed Russia planned to mobilise 300,000 new troops for its war by June. But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies, said the Ukrainian president’s assertion about a new Russian mobilisation was untrue, says Reuters. The pact signed by president Alexander Stubb and Zelenskiy made Finland the eighth Nato member this year to commit to long-term security cooperation and defence backing for Kyiv.

  • Nato foreign ministers met in Brussels on Wednesday, where Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary general, announced that “today, allies have agreed to move forward with planning for a greater Nato role in coordinating security assistance and training”, when it comes to the future of aid to Ukraine.

  • Asked about a possible €100bn Nato fund for Ukraine, the Polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, told reporters: “We support the secretary-general’s efforts.” The fund is a bid to shield support for Ukraine in the face of a potential return of Donald Trump to the US presidency.

  • The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, urged allies to boost defence spending. “The most important thing we can do to make sure this alliance continues to grow and continues to strengthen is to ensure that we all spend over 2% of our GDP on defence,” he said.

  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has reiterated his call for more air defences. “This terror is wreaking havoc on cities and villages throughout Ukraine, and Russia is particularly relentless in bombarding frontline and border areas,” he wrote. Ukraine’s partners are not providing Ukraine with enough air defence, the country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told Reuters in an interview.

  • Ukraine’s lowering of its military conscription age from 27 to 25 has come into force. The change is part of an effort to replenish its depleted ranks after more than two years of war after Russia’s full-scale invasion. The new mobilisation law came into force Wednesday, a day after Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed it, reports AP.

  • Russian security official Nikolai Patrushev said today, without providing any evidence, that “Ukrainian special services” were behind last month’s deadly concert shooting near Moscow.

  • Two Russian TU-95MS strategic bomber planes performed a scheduled five-hour flight over neutral waters of the Barents and Norwegian seas.

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