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Deciphering the Novelty Franco-German Security Deal with Ukraine

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Written by Clément Stratmann

Edited by Alex Marchan

Supervised by Emile Clarke

Last Friday, February 16th 2024 saw the establishment of a milestone in Franco-Ukrainian relations in the form of the ratification of a bilateral security and relief agreement at the Élysée Palace in Paris.  French President Emmanuel Macron signed an accord with President Zelensky, promising large-scale funding, the delivery of offensive weaponry and the exchange of intelligence, while also discussing the production of electronic defence and drone systems (Ratz et al., 2024). This happened only a few hours after Zelensky signed a quasi-identical deal with German chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, as the Ukrainian leader had done in January with Great Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Fornusek, 2024). Thus, in a show of a slowly nascent, but steadily emerging European defence cooperation effort, the Franco-German couple pledged complementary financial relief, the delivery of heavy armament and offensive weaponry, additionally paving the way for the exchange and mutual consultation of military intelligence.

President Macron hailed the two signing parties as complementary (Von Der Burchard et al., 2024) and praised the deal as a collective and sustainable long-term commitment of Franco-German support to Ukraine (Fornusek, 2024) He announced before the ratification that the security pact would run for a minimum of 10 years, echoing Scholz’s vow of support towards Ukraine “for as long as it takes” (France24, 2024). Volodymyr Zelensky voiced his gratitude and reaffirmed his satisfaction with a deal that he described as durable and ambitious support towards Ukrainian defence capacity on the level of €3.2 million (Fornusek, 2024). He stated his conviction that the agreement would reaffirm Kyiv’s prospects of joining both NATO and the European Union within the foreseeable future (Fornusek, 2024).  During the prior years of the conflict, France had provided total military assistance worth €1.7 billion in 2022 and €2.2 billion in 2023 (Von Der Burchard et al., 2024).

Later that day, Scholz went on to announce the adoption of a supplementary 1.2-billion-euro (France24, 2024) support package which contains at least 120 thousand artillery rounds, 36 self-propelled howitzers, an IRIS-T-air defence system and two Skynex Airs systems (Von Der Burchard et al., 2024). Further, Scholz announced that Germany would contribute a total of €28 billion worth of military equipment, including current and future donations in his declaration for Ukraine to further defend itself by bolstering its defence capacities, which would elevate Berlin to the second most important supporter of Ukraine behind the United States (Von Der Burchard et al., 2024). 

The signature of said deal crystallised in the wake of France significantly toughening up its rhetoric towards Russia following various provocations (Bourgery-Gonse, 2024). The Kremlin, for instance, has spread rumours of the alleged employment of French mercenaries by the Ukrainian Armed Forces following the crash of the plane carrying dozens of French citizens earlier this year (Essomassor, 2024). The repeated attempt at discrediting Paris’ foreign policy comes as a consequence of French support for Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly voiced its extreme dissatisfaction with EU support against the Russian invasion and has repeatedly tried to quell European opposition to its war effort by singling out and intimidating individual member states such as Sweden following its recent close NATO rapprochement, for example (Essomassor, 2024).

Furthermore, the country-by-country assistance packages took shape following a joint G-7 resolution aimed at maintaining Ukrainian defence capacity before it adheres to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Bourgery-Gonse, 2024).  The brutal death of Alexei Navalny in the form of a likely assassination by the Russian regime further emboldened European partners to discuss supplementary policy steps, as Macron mentioned the possibility of additional support to Ukraine beyond the current scope entailed by the security deal (Moulson et al., 2024). Both French and Ukrainian presidents agreed on the historical dimension of the double security agreement as appeared as an extension of a new focus on artillery and heavy ammunition. With this agreement. Macron mapped out his long-term vision of the partnership as seeking to establish a European contribution to the restoration of Ukraine’s borders in their internationally and lawfully recognised form (The Strait Times, 2024). These declarations, along with Zelensky’s confident plea for Europeans to proactively aid Ukraine in its defence effort at the Munich Conference, seem to have quelled the often-named eponymous feeling of defeatism often historically associated with the Bavarian city (Euronews, 2024).

Lastly, the timely succession of these bilateral agreements appears insofar noteworthy, as Paris and Berlin have often diverged significantly on matters of defence and security policy. As demonstrated by its famed “policy of the empty seat” (1965-1966) at NATO and its subsequent withdrawal from command structures of the Atlantic Alliance until 2007, France has historically privileged retaining national autonomy and sovereignty, aspiring to maintain its former status as a global power, often to the detriment of European and Atlantic integration. Germany on the other hand, continues to favour trans-Atlantism, thus, according to critics, leaving its European partners often wondering about the geostrategic whereabouts and loyalties of the Union’s main socio-economic heavyweight.

If the Franco-German effort can maintain cooperation sustainably in matters of geostrategic defence and, assistance of Ukraine, the establishment of a solid grounding of geostrategic autonomy might become a tangible element of common interest that could alleviate the European Union’s international crisis. Despite the fact that the establishment of unanimity on strategic matters cannot fully be achieved in the foreseeable future, it seems essential that the two most prominent actors within Europe are apt to calibrate their national interests to reach a European consensus, thus increasing interoperability by integrating and maximising existing production and intelligence capabilities.


Bourgery-Gonse, T. (2024, February 17). As Ukraine signs French security deal, Macron warns Russia risk reached new phase. EURACTIV., February al-macron-warns-russia-risk-reached-new-phase/

Euronews (2024, February 16). Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to sign security agreements with Germany and France as Kyiv shores up support. Euronews.

Essomassor, M. (2024, January 19). Russia accuses: False allegations of deployment of French mercenaries in Ukraine. Fatshimetrie – Citizen’s Blog.

Fornusek, M. (2024, February 16). Zelensky and Macron sign security agreement between Ukraine and France. The Kyiv Independent.

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Moulson, G., & Corbet, S. (2024, February 16). Ukraine’s Zelenskyy heads to Berlin, Paris to drum up wartime aid. AP News.

Ratz, A., Dysa, Y., & Rose, M. (2024, February 16). Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says security deal with France is ambitious, substantive. Reuters.

The Straits Times (2024, February 17). Ukraine’s Zelenskiy to sign security agreements with Germany and France as Kyiv shores up support. The Straits Times.

Von Der Burchard, H., & Goury-Laffont, V. (2024, February 16). Ukraine signs security pacts with Germany, France. Politico.