UPDATE ON THE SITUATION – The two heads of state and government announced this Friday the signing of a ten-year security agreement.
The UK has signed an “unprecedented” security agreement with Ukraine. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also announced new military aid to help Kiev fight Moscow during a surprise visit to Kiev. The strikes in Ukraine and Russia continue. Le Figaro takes stock of the war in Ukraine this Friday, January 12th.
Sunak and Zelensky announce security agreement
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who traveled to Kiev, announced on Friday the signing of a 10-year security agreement between his country and Ukraine, hailed as “unprecedented” by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Rishi Sunak, who wanted to send a “message” with this surprise visit, called for the continuation of Western aid, which is vital for Kiev. Any weakening of that support would “embolden” not only Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also “his allies in North Korea, Iran and elsewhere,” he assured. “If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop there,” the prime minister said, promising that the country is “not alone” and “never will be.” Kiev is concerned that its European and American allies are reluctant to give it more help to combat the Russian invasion because of internal political disagreements.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has sought to remobilize his allies in recent weeks, praised the “unprecedented security agreement” reached with the United Kingdom in a decade. “That is not an easy statement. This is a reality that can become a reality thanks to our cooperation,” he promised. This text follows promises of bilateral agreements by the G7 countries at the NATO summit in Vilnius last year. The United Kingdom, Ukraine's first backer in the face of the Russian invasion, is the first country to reach a final agreement, according to Downing Street.
Rishi Sunak promises £2.5 billion in military aid
Rishi Sunak also announced an increase in military aid and the delivery of thousands of drones. “We are one of the most important supporters of Ukraine, especially when it comes to military aid,” he said. UK military aid for 2024/2025 will be £2.5 billion, an increase of £200 million on the previous two years. This will bring the total amount of UK aid to Ukraine to almost £12 billion (€14 billion). This support reflects “the seriousness of the situation here” and “our determination” to support Ukraine, Rishi Sunak added, stressing that this is his first visit by a foreigner and the first by a foreign leader to Ukraine this year. “Putin may think he can hold out longer than us, but he is wrong,” he promised.
The UK financial framework must be used to provide long-range missiles, air defence, artillery ammunition and maritime security tools. At least £200 million is part of a move to “rapidly deliver and produce thousands of military drones”, including “surveillance, long-range attack and maritime drones”, Downing Street said. According to London, this is “the largest drone delivery of any country to Ukraine.” Most of these aircraft are manufactured in the United Kingdom.
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The new head of French diplomacy on the way to Kiev
The new head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné, “is on his way to Kiev,” where he will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to show French support for Ukraine, which is at war with Russia, his entourage said on Friday. The meeting was originally planned with outgoing minister Catherine Colonna, but the reshuffle took place on Thursday evening with the appointment of Stéphane Séjourné to the Quai d'Orsay. CAtherine Colonna was scheduled to begin her trip with a stop in Warsaw, Poland.
“Helping Ukraine means guaranteeing the victory of democracy,” said Stéphane Séjourné on Friday morning when he handed over power. He also announced that he would be traveling “to Berlin and Warsaw in the coming days.” After Kiev, Stéphane Séjourné was supposed to continue his journey to Poland and Germany. The details will be communicated later from the Quai d'Orsay, the minister's entourage said.
Two dead in Russian attack in Kherson
Russian bombings have killed two people in Kherson, a large city in southern Ukraine that comes under almost daily attacks, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on Friday. “The occupiers lined the city streets with artillery,” he wrote on Telegram, sharing images of burned cars and bodies on the ground. “A woman died at the scene” and a “burned body” was found in one of the vehicles, he said.
Only the Dnieper River, a natural barrier, separates Kherson from the Moscow army, which intensively bombards the city. It was recaptured by Kiev forces in November 2022 after being in the hands of Russian troops for several months.
Two dead in Ukrainian attack on ambulance
At least two people, including a health care worker, were killed and six injured by a drone strike on Friday during a rescue operation in a Russian-occupied city in eastern Ukraine, a local official said. “A Ukrainian Armed Forces drone hit an ambulance,” Ivan Prikhodko, the mayor of Gorlivka, a city controlled by Russia since 2014 and located about forty kilometers from Donetsk, said on Telegram.
According to this source, the attack occurred while rescuers were treating injured people affected by an attack on electrical facilities in the north of Gorlivka. A rescue worker and an electric utility employee died in that attack and “six other residents” were injured “of varying degrees of severity,” the mayor said. He posted a photo showing an ambulance with a dented body and a torn door.
The city of Gorlivka, located near the front, has been regularly hit by bomb attacks since the start of the conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists in 2014 and Russia's major attack on Ukraine in February 2022.