France's new foreign minister Stephane Sejourne arrived in Kyiv on Saturday for his first official trip abroad, in a sign of support as the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears its second year.
The visit comes at a crucial time for Ukraine with its allies in Brussels and Washington struggling to secure funding despite unabated Russian attacks.
"Stephane Sejourne arrived in Kiev for his first trip on the ground, to continue France's diplomatic efforts there and to reiterate France's commitment to its allies and to the civilian population," France's foreign ministry said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Sejourne, who took over from Catherine Colonna in a government reshuffle on Thursday, was scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Sejourne, 38, who unlike Colonna has no background as a professional diplomat, is a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron and secretary general of the president's Renaissance party.
He had already pledged continued strong support for Ukraine, which has been fighting off invading Russian troops for almost two years, when he formally took over Friday.
"Helping Ukraine means guaranteeing the victory of democracy," he said.
France's military support to Ukraine amounts to 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion), according to a parliamentary report published in November.
Initial Western support to Ukraine surprised some observers, but cracks have appeared between backers as the was has dragged on.
Aid promised to Ukraine between August and October 2023 fell almost 90 percent from the same period in 2022, reaching its lowest point since the start of the war, according to a Kiel Institute survey from December.
An EU aid package worth 50 billion euros ($55 billion) has been stuck in Brussels, while the US Congress remains divided on sending additional aid to Ukraine.
Zelensky warned that any delay in aid could severely impact the course of the war.
He has also pushing for more air defense, as his country has been facing renewed aerial assaults from Russia.
In the latest barrage, Russia launched 40 missiles and drones on Ukraine overnight.
"A total of 40 means of enemy air attack were recorded," the air force said, adding it destroyed eight missiles.
"More than 20 devices" failed to reach their targets due to "active measures by means of electronic warfare."
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