Overview:

  • Russian ambassador to Poland ignores summons to explain projectile incident
  • Iceland joins Czech initiative to procure more projectiles for Ukraine
  • Paris says “it’s wrong” to depend on US to “pay so much for the security of Europeans”
  • Zelensky vows to eliminate the consequences of Russian strikes“in the regions”

French defense minister announces delivery to Kyiv of 78 howitzers, and fast

At a press conference Tuesday, France’s Minister of Defense, Sébastien Lecornu said that his country, along with Ukraine and Denmark, had reached an agreement to finance the delivery of 78 Caesar 155mm self-propelled howitzers, and Paris vowed to “deliver them quickly.”

Lecornu added that France intends to supply Kyiv with some 80,000 rounds of ammunition for the big guns, representing a 167 percent increase in such supplies since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.

The Franco-Danish cooperation with Ukraine coincides with an initiative spearheaded by Prague to locate and pay for ammunition outside the European Union; Lecornu said that Paris was also actively involved in that effort. He said that Europe needed to continue increasing its financial support for Ukraine because US lawmakers haven't been able to vote on the $61 billion package for Kyiv and that this is more Europe’s responsibility.

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“This is an absolute necessity,” Lecornu said. “I think it’s wrong that American taxpayers should pay so much for the security of Europeans.”

Polish Foreign Ministry still awaiting answers from Russia about airspace breach

The chief Russian diplomatic envoy to Poland, Sergei Andreyev, neglected to appear before Poland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, following a Russian aerial strike on Ukraine that included a cruise missile flying over Poland’s airspace for nearly 40 seconds.

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OSCE condemned it as "a grave violation of participating states' commitments under international law" and called for the immediate release of Vadym Golda and two other jailed OSCE officials.

He “did not come to the foreign ministry today to explain the incident,” Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Pawel Wronski said in an official statement.

Reuters cited the Russian diplomat as saying he didn’t arrive at the Polish government body because he hadn't been provided evidence of the incident that day.

The Russian projectile was reportedly recorded flying over Polish airspace for 39 seconds near the village of Oseredow, near Ukraine’s western border with the NATO-member country.

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In December, Poland took no action when another Russian projectile entered its airspace during an attack on Ukraine. Another missile crossed Poland’s border the previous month and landed on its territory, reportedly, at the time, leading to the deaths of two people. Later, an investigation found that those deaths were caused by Ukrainian air defense systems firing at Russian airborne attacks.

Polish armed forces scrambled F-16 fighters during the March 24 incident, a Kyiv Post dispatch reported earlier. 

Romania, another NATO country, said that it scrambled fighter jets on Dec. 14 when debris from fallen Russian attack drones fell on its territory after targeting Ukraine’s port installations near the Danube River.

Neighboring Moldova, an aspiring NATO and EU nation, also reported in February that it found fragments of intercepted Russian drones that Iran provides on its territory.

None of the countries have taken action on these breaches beyond verbal condemnation.

Meanwhile, Moldovan President Maia Sandu has accused Moscow of attempting a coup to remove her from power, as her country includes the separatist, pro-Kremlin enclave of Transnistria, where some 2,000 Russian soldiers are stationed.

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Iceland becomes 16th country to join Czech artillery initiative for Ukraine

Iceland announced on Tuesday that it was attaching itself to the Czech-led initiative to provide Ukraine with ammunition to counter its “severe shortage of artillery shells,” the island nation’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement

Reykjavik is expending €2 million on the effort.

“It is crucial to continue supporting Ukraine vigorously, not only to defend the people of Ukraine but also to uphold international laws in a broader context and our own security interests. Iceland’s long-term policy on support for Ukraine, currently under parliamentary discussion, will solidify this support in the long term, while simultaneously allowing us to move swiftly and support initiatives of this nature,” said Iceland's Foreign Affairs Minister, Bjarni Benediktsson.

The statement said an additional €500,000 (about $550,000) was pledged to provide equipment to female Ukrainian soldiers including uniforms, medical supplies, and hygienic products.

Czechia is leading a coalition of countries to provide about a half-million 155mm shells and some 300,000 122mm shells to Kyiv as it suffers from a shortage of munitions.

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The first arrivals of these supplies have benefited Kyiv already, Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavsky told Bloomberg.

“We can do so much more than the initially announced number,” he said about procuring artillery that could reach up to 1.5 million rounds this year.  

Zelensky vows to eliminate the consequences of Russian strikes “in the regions”

“We will continue to strengthen Ukraine and upgrade our state system in all areas,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly remarks.

“Today I continued the reboot of our state’s governance system. There are personnel changes.”

After outlining numerous personnel changes among officials, Zelensky added: “One more thing… Every day, we continuously monitor the work in the regions, including Kharkiv, on eliminating the consequences of Russian strikes.

“Today, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal made a report on the matter. And I am grateful to everyone on the ground who works for the people, who non-stop, around the clock, [do] everything possible to ensure that people and businesses have electricity, communication, transport – all those essentials of life that are needed.”

 

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