Europe 1 with AFP 9:00 a.m., February 17, 2024, modified to 9:00 a.m., February 17, 2024

After obtaining security guarantees for Ukraine from Berlin and Paris, Volodomyr Zelensky returns to Germany on Saturday to address Western leaders and ensure broad mobilization in favor of his country, in difficulty facing the troops Russians.

At the Munich Security Conference, Volodymyr Zelensky's speech to the geopolitics and defense elite, scheduled for around 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. GMT), comes at a critical time for Ukraine and its soldiers who are under pressure Russian attacks in the east, around the town of Avdiïvka.

Ukraine faces multiple challenges

The Ukrainian president will increase diplomatic talks throughout the day, while the invasion triggered by the Kremlin will soon begin its third year. In addition to US Vice-President Kamala Harris, he is expected to have a new face-to-face meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Ukraine faces multiple challenges: Russian soldiers are on the offensive, American military aid is still in limbo and the Ukrainian army lacks men, weapons and ammunition. kyiv has been hoping for months for the vote on crucial aid of some $60 billion decided by the government of Joe Biden, campaigning for a second term, but hampered by a Republican opposition under the influence of Donald Trump. A failure to release this aid to the American Congress would amount to "giving a gift to Putin", Ms Harris warned on Friday in a speech in Munich.

Chancellor Scholz will also speak on Saturday in Munich, as will the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The European Union had recently approved, not without difficulty, military aid of 50 billion euros over four years, after Hungary lifted its veto. A meeting of foreign ministers from the G7 industrial powers is also due to take place on the sidelines of the conference.

Volodymyr Zelensky signed two security agreements with Germany and France

On Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky signed two security agreements, first with Berlin, then with Paris, intended to guarantee his country lasting support in its fight against Russian forces. Concretely, France undertakes to provide "up to three billion euros" in additional aid to Ukraine for 2024. This agreement "concluded for a period of ten years" mentions, among other things, a strengthening of “cooperation in the field of artillery”.

These sums will be added to the approximately seven billion announced by Berlin. The text signed with Germany also plans to support Ukraine after the war so that it can equip itself with a modern army capable of repelling other possible attacks from Russia in the future.

These bilateral agreements are not an “alternative” solution to support from Washington, the Ukrainian leader stressed in Paris. But he said he hoped that this would “give an impetus to the United States” to release the expected aid. “Two years after the start of this terrible war, today we are sending a very clear message to the Russian President (Vladimir Putin): we will not relax our support for Ukraine,” Olaf Scholz warned during a conference. press alongside Volodymyr Zelensky.

The latter's European tour was, however, overshadowed by the announcement of the death in prison of Alexeï Navalny, the number one opponent of Vladimir Putin, who already rules Russia with an iron fist, exacerbating tensions with the Westerners and further extinguishing any hope of openness to Moscow.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas will be at the heart of the debates at the Munich Conference

If Ukraine is once again at the heart of the debates at the Munich Conference, the deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas, the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and the threat of escalation in the Middle East will also take a predominant place . Several officials from the region are expected in Munich on Saturday, including Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.

Complex negotiations are underway for a truce including further releases of Hamas hostages and Palestinians held by Israel. In this context, Joe Biden again demanded on Friday "a temporary ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip. Qatar Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Thani, whose country is one of the main mediators in the negotiations for the release of the hostages, is also due to speak in Munich, according to organizers of the conference.