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Umerov postpones trip to France, attends artillery coalition event virtually

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 18, 2024 4:05 PM 2 min read
Defense Minister Rustem Umerov attends a joint press conference with Defense Minister of Latvia Andris Spruds in Kyiv on Dec. 12, 2023. (Kaniuka Ruslan / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Defense Minister Rustem Umerov postponed his planned trip to France and participated in the "artillery coalition" virtually, the Defense Ministry announced on Jan. 18.

Umerov had planned to come to Paris on Jan. 18 to launch the event, which aims to strengthen the Ukrainian army's artillery capabilities.

The Defense Ministry said that the visit was postponed because Umerov needed to attend a meeting on Jan. 17 with the Headquarters of Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the top command and control body for all branches of Ukraine’s defense and security apparatus.

The Defense Ministry said that Deputy Minister Ivan Havryliuk represented the Ukrainian delegation in Paris and Umerov participated via video link.  

Umerov said in his opening address that Ukraine's army is facing an "extremely urgent" ammunition shortage and stressed the need for modern artillery.

"Russia vastly outnumbers us in daily artillery attacks. At different areas of the front and stages of hostilities, they fired five to 10 times more artillery shells than the Ukrainian forces."

"Strengthening our artillery capability is one of our key needs to win this war," Umerov said.

According to the Defense Ministry, "the teams of the Ukrainian and French ministries are also currently working on a new date for the visit" to France.

The "artillery coalition" event comes after France made several announcements in recent days about new weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

French arms manufacturers will produce 78 Caesar howitzers by the beginning of 2025 to supply them to Ukraine, the country's Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Jan. 18 in an interview for Le Parisien.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Jan. 16 that France will deliver 40 SCALP long-range missiles and other ordinance. Macron will also reportedly sign a bilateral military agreement in Kyiv in February.

The newly-appointed French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne visited Kyiv on Jan. 13, during which he discussed Ukraine's defense needs, including the joint production of drones and artillery, with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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