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War in Ukraine: Zelensky impatient to receive the Mirage 2000

“New sorting camps [Editor’s note: for captured civilians and soldiers] in Europe, the cult of hatred, a desire to blackmail and threaten the entire world, crossing line after line…” The evocation of totalitarianism was clear in the speech of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, before French deputies, this Friday, the day after the commemoration of the Allied landings in Normandy, 80 years ago.

Before a curiously sparse National Assembly, the Ukrainian head of state warmly thanked his allies, and in particular France for the delivery, announced Thursday evening, of Mirage 2000-5 fighters.

These air defense aircraft, which should therefore be used in Ukrainian or Russian skies to shoot down fighter bombers, entered service 25 years ago, which makes it a very good fighter but not at the level of the American F22 Raptor and F35, the French Rafale, or the Russian Mig 35. Its range of 1,600 km is sufficient to effectively defend a large portion of the Ukrainian sky and it can reach 2.2 times the speed of sound. Some military personnel and analysts having worried that their transfer could weaken the French air force, the Minister of Defense, Sébastien Lecornu, recalled on Friday that this transfer will not damage the “Defense standard” of the French army.

The arrival of F16s, of American design but taken from the Danish or Dutch arsenal, has been announced as imminent for months, the political decision dating back to… last August. For the F16s as for the Mirage, the problem arises of the training time of Ukrainian pilots accustomed to Soviet-designed planes.

An existential battle


The Ukrainian president said he hoped that Russia “will one day become a normal nation again instead of being an imperial project wanting to conquer ever more territories”, today Ukraine, tomorrow the Baltic States, Poland, and even Africa. “This battle for Ukraine now has the same existential significance for Europe as the battles won by previous generations of Europeans”, added the Ukrainian president, evoking the sacrifice of the young soldiers on the Normandy beaches without whom Europe would today be “a black hole”.

Before emphasizing: “For peace, we need more. This is not a reproach. We must do more today to be closer to peace tomorrow” on the European continent. “I thank you for being at our side to defend life”, concluded Volodymyr Zelensky in French to the applause of the deputies from all sides present.

Biden reaffirms his support


The Ukrainian president, who was due to meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in the evening to discuss military issues, including the sending of French instructors, spoke with Joe Biden on Friday afternoon. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two men since the Ukrainian president visited Washington last December. The American president announced a new tranche of aid of $225 million as part of the $61 billion package voted in April after months of debate by the American Congress.

“We are not going to abandon you,” reaffirmed the American president, who publicly apologized to his counterpart for the delay in the delivery of US military aid due to the objections of his rival for the November 5 presidential election, Donald Trump. “We are still there, completely, totally,” he concluded. Volodymyr Zelensky was making his fourth official visit to France since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022.

This article is originally published on .lesechos.fr

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