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Ukraine ‘can count on France to win this war’, Macron tells Zelensky in Paris

President Emmanuel Macron said France would stand firmly by Ukraine in its war against Russia as he stood alongside Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Élysée presidential palace in Paris. The Ukrainian leader’s visit comes hours after he addressed a joint session of the British parliament in London. Follow FRANCE 24’s blog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

SpaceX has taken steps to prevent Ukraine’s military from using the company’s Starlink satellite internet service for controlling drones in the region during the country’s war with Russia, SpaceX’s president said Wednesday.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service, which has provided Ukraine’s military with broadband communications in its defense against Russia’s military, was “never never meant to be weaponized,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said during a conference in Washington, D.C.

“However, Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement,” she said.

Russia has attempted to jam Starlink signals in the region, though SpaceX countered by hardening the service’s software, Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, has said.

03:00am: Australia vows to hold Russia accountable for MH17 disaster
Australia on Thursday pledged to hold Russia accountable for shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, after a team of international investigators halted its probe into the disaster.

The team said there were “strong indications” Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved supplying the missile system that eventually downed the flight — but halted the investigation because there was no “conclusive evidence”.

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The Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 passengers on board, including 196 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 38 Australian residents.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Thursday said Russia had repeatedly tried to thwart the investigation, making it “impossible” to collect proof.

They added that Australia would “hold Russia to account for its role in the downing of the civilian aircraft”.

11:03pm: Ukraine ‘belongs to the European family’: Scholz
Europe will support Ukraine in its war against Russia for as long as necessary, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, adding Ukraine belongs to the European family.

Speaking in Paris alongside President Macron and Ukrainian President Zelensky, Scholz said leaders at an EU summit on Thursday would send a strong signal of solidarity with Kyiv.

“I am taking a clear message to Brussels: Ukraine belongs to the European family,” said Scholz.

10:49pm: Ukraine ‘can count on France to win this war’, says Macron
At a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Emmanuel Macron said Ukraine can count on France in its war against Russia.

“Russia cannot and must not win this war. As long as Russia continues to attack, we will continue to adapt and moderate the necessary military support to preserve Ukraine and its future,” said Macron.

France is “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights”, said Macron, ahead of a working dinner, adding that Paris would “continue its efforts” to deliver arms to Kyiv.

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9:41pm: Ukrainians believe Zelensky ‘won the Brits over’
Reporting from Kyiv, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg said Ukrainians believe the “extraordinarily warm reception” Zelensky received during his visit to the UK, and his “rousing speech” to British lawmakers earlier Wednesday, have led Ukrainians to believe their leader “won the Brits over”.

Zelensky is expected to arrive in Paris shortly for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Macron sparked controversy in June last year when he said it was vital the West did not “humiliate Russia, so that when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means”.

“I think he has changed, and changed for real this time,” Zelensky told Le Figaro. “After all, it is he who paved the way for the delivery of tanks. And he has also supported Ukraine’s membership to the EU. I think that was a real signal,” Zelensky said.

The interview was published just as Zelensky was to arrive in Paris for his first visit to France since the invasion began almost one year ago.

Zelensky had on occasion showed impatience with Macron, who held frequent telephone talks with President Vladimir Putin even after the invasion.

Responding to Macron’s comments at the time, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “calls to avoid the humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France”.

“The Ukrainian crews who arrived last week will be using Challenger 2 tanks to defend Ukraine sovereign territory next month,” Sunak said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Zelensky, sticking to the end-of-March target for their deployment previously announced.

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Speaking after the two leaders signed a declaration of unity, Sunak said Britain has expanded its military training programme with Ukraine.

The UK has already trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers over the past six months. More soldiers are now expected in the UK for training, said Sunak.

The British prime minister said fighter jets were “part of the conversation” about support for Ukraine.

“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We must arm Ukraine in the short term, but we must bolster Ukraine for the long term.”

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a joint press conference after talks in Dorset on Wednesday. Sunak pledged to expand British shipments of military equipment, including longer-range capabilities, as well as train Ukrainian pilots on NATO fighter jets.