Ukraine's Zelenskiy tells France, Germany to provide 'game changing' weapons

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron reacts, at a joint news conference held with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, in The Hague, Netherlands January 30, 2023. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Germany have the opportunity to be "game changers" in the war against Russia by not hesitating in delivering heavy weapons and modern fighter jets to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during a visit to Paris on Wednesday.

Zelenskiy arrived in Paris for a dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after holding talks in Britain earlier in the day where he urged his Western allies to give Ukraine "wings for freedom" by sending warplanes to help turn the tide against Moscow.

He travels to Brussels on Thursday where he will attend a European leaders summit.

"We have very little time. I'm talking now about the weapons needed for peace and to stop the war started by Russia," Zelenskiy said.

"France and Germany have the potential to be game changers and that's how I see our talks today. The sooner we get heavy long range weapons and our pilots get modern planes ... the quicker this Russian aggression will end."

Western countries have scaled up their pledges of military aid for Ukraine this year with promises of hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles as well as longer range weapons, but have so far refused to deliver Western-made combat planes.

Macron said operational matters would be discussed during the dinner, reiterated that Russia could not be allowed to win the war and that Paris like Berlin would continue to support as long as necessary the military support Ukraine needed to secure its future.

Ahead of Thursday's meeting in Belgium, Scholz sought to stress Kyiv's position in Europe.

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

(Reporting by John Irish, Michel Rose and Madelaine Chambers; editing by Diane Craft)

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