France, Germany and Poland back Ukraine's counteroffensive in a show of unity

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Polish President Andrzej Duda, left, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attend a joint press conference Monday, June 12, 2023 at the Elysee palace in Paris. Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish President Andrzej Duda meet in Paris for talks focusing on military support for Ukraine's counteroffensive and future security guarantees to be given to the country, ahead of a NATO summit in July. (Sarah Meyssonnier, Pool via AP)

PARIS – The leaders of France, Germany and Poland met in Paris Monday for talks focusing on military support for Ukraine’s counteroffensive and future security guarantees to be given to the country, ahead of a NATO summit in July.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “the Ukrainian counteroffensive began several days ago," in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda at the Elysee presidential palace.

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In a show of unity, the three leaders insisted they would continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.

“This offensive is set to be deployed over several weeks, if not months. We have done everything to help them, within the limits we set ourselves at the start of the conflict,” Macron said.

He promised to continue deliveries of weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles “over the coming days and weeks."

France wants the counteroffensive “to be as successful as possible to then be able to launch a negotiation phase (with Russia) under the right conditions,” Macron said.

Duda, who talked by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday evening, said, “I hope and believe that with our support, the counteroffensive will be successful ... This victory, in my deepest feeling, will be the ousting of Russian military forces from all occupied territories.”

The three leaders refused to be drawn on the detail of future security guarantees for Ukraine over the longer term.

“It is time that Putin finally recognizes that his plan has failed, that he ends the war after almost 16 months with hundreds of thousands of dead, with millions injured and even more refugees," Scholz said. "That he is withdrawing troops and is finally ready for serious talks about a fair peace,” he added.

Security guarantees are part of ongoing talks between NATO leaders to ensure that Ukraine does not come under attack from Russia again once the war is over. The issue will be on the agenda at a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month.

Over their working dinner, leaders were also due to discuss humanitarian aid to Ukraine, particularly following the attack on the Kakhovka dam, which has devastated large areas of southeastern Ukraine with flooding.

Earlier this month, Zelenskyy pushed for more political support and security backing from NATO during a sprawling summit in Moldova where nearly every European leader had assembled to condemn Russia. He said he was expecting “the clear invitation to (NATO) membership for Ukraine" and “security guarantees on the way to NATO membership” in Vilnius.


AP writers Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Germany contributed to the story.

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