Ukraine updates: Macron seeks to revitalise European aid

French president Emmanuel Macron is to host a meeting of European leaders in a bid to bolster support for Ukraine

Kyiv says 31,000 of its soldiers have died defending the country from Russia's invasion. (photo: DW)
Kyiv says 31,000 of its soldiers have died defending the country from Russia's invasion. (photo: DW)
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French President Emmanuel Macron is set to host a conference in Paris to discuss Europe's role in supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against the Russian invasion.

At the meeting, which will be attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz among others, participants will have the opportunity to "reaffirm their unity as well as their determination to defeat the war of aggression waged by Russia in Ukraine," the French presidency said.

The meeting comes as unverified reports emerge from Kyiv saying that Russian troops have shot dead seven Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Macron set to host Ukraine conference

French President Emmanuel Macron is to host a conference in Paris at which European leaders will discuss their support of Ukraine.

The gathering comes amid fears that help from the US could falter.

Macron is likely to also use the conference to plead for more European autonomy in security matters, something he championed even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched two years ago.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda will be among some 20 European heads of state and government attending the conference. A video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is to open the meeting.

The United States and Canada will also be represented.

The French presidency says the meeting will "examine all means to support Ukraine effectively" as Kyiv's troops begin to run out of weapons and ammunition.

This plight has been exacerbated as US Republicans continue to block approval of a major new aid package for Ukraine.

The prospect that Donald Trump might return to the White House in elections later this year has also increased concerns that Washington's aid to Ukraine might wane in the long term.
The Paris meeting is due to start at 1600 GMT/UTC, with a news conference expected from Macron several hours later.

Russian soldiers shot Ukrainian POWs: Kyiv

Ukrainian authorities say Russian troops shot dead seven Ukrainian prisoners of war on Saturday near the Russian-occupied city of Bakhmut.

In a post on Telegram on Sunday evening, Ukrainian human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinez referred to a video recording showing Ukrainian soldiers "with their hands up" as they surrendered.

"The Russians were supposed to take them prisoner, but instead shot them mercilessly," he said.

The report could not be initially verified independently.

Hungary to vote on Sweden's NATO accession

Hungarian lawmakers are expected to ratify Sweden's accession to NATO on Monday in a long-delayed vote.

Hungary is the only one of the 31 NATO member states that has not yet approved Swedish membership in the military alliance, despite vows by Prime Minister Viktor Orban that it would not be the last to do so. Complete unanimity of all members is required for a new state to join.

The reasons given for the delay have been various and vague. Recently, the right-wing Hungarian government, which maintains friendly relations with Russia, said it felt "insulted" by Swedish criticism of the state of the rule of law in Hungary.

Sweden applied for NATO membership together with Finland in May 2022, but, unlike its neighbor, which was admitted in April last year, has faced a struggle to gain ratification from Turkey and Hungary.

Ankara dropped its objections in January, leaving Budapest holding out alone.

On Friday, Orban and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson finally announced an agreement under which Hungary will buy four new Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.

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Published: 26 Feb 2024, 2:14 PM
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