“This boat concretely materializes our solidarity. It would have been inconceivable for us to remain indifferent to the fate of the Ukrainian people who are suffering this war in their flesh, a war that they did not choose and against which they are resisting with so much courage”, said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, who came to the port of France’s second city for the occasion.

At his side, the Ukrainian ambassador to France, Vadym Omelchenko, expressed his “gratitude” for “this gesture of solidarity, a sign of true fraternity”.

The boat has civil security equipment on board, including fifteen fire and rescue vehicles, eight watercraft, rescue and clearing equipment, bridges in spare parts, five generators and a medical vehicle equipped with a X-ray machine but also mine clearance equipment, 25 tons of medical equipment and 60,000 food rations, according to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“This aid from France responds to requests from the Ukrainian authorities, explained Stéphane Romanet, director of the crisis and support center of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The operation was set up in partnership with the foundation of the shipowner CMA-CGM which graciously made available the “Aknoul”, a ro-ro ship already used in 2020 to deliver humanitarian aid to Lebanon after the explosion in the port of Beirut.

Four months were needed to set up this operation, in which many local authorities, businesses, associations and NGOs also took part.

With this boat, the load of which has been estimated at 10 million euros, more than 30 French humanitarian convoys have been sent by France to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

“While Vladimir Putin is once again choosing to rush forward (…), we are acting responsibly without sparing our support for Ukraine”, underlined the French minister.

Catherine Colonna had already mentioned on Tuesday “a strengthening” of this support, both in terms of the supply of defense equipment and the fight against impunity and in financial and humanitarian terms, during a meeting in kyiv with the President Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky and his counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

The arrival of the boat from the CMA CGM shipping company is scheduled for October 4 at the Romanian port of Constanta on the Black Sea. The cargo will then be transported to the humanitarian hub of Suceava (Romania), not far from the border with Ukraine, where it will be transported by road. Delivery is scheduled for the second half of October, the ministry said.

Part of the aid is intended for the reconstruction of the city of Cherniguiv, north of kyiv, which was 70% destroyed, according to its mayor, after having suffered bombardments from the Russian air force and artillery for a month before the withdrawal of troops from the Kremlin at the end of March. The cities of Kharkiv (eastern Ukraine), once again affected by Russian strikes overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, Odessa (southern Ukraine) among others will also benefit from this French aid.

“As Russia renews its aggressive rhetoric, as it organizes the sham referendums which mark its status as a pariah state and as unexplained incidents take place in the Baltic Sea, I say this with a certain gravity: we will have to maintain our long-term commitment”, concluded Catherine Colonna.