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UKRAINE

Ukraine war overshadows France’s WWII commemorations

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday marked the anniversary of the Allies' victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, overshadowed this year by the war in Ukraine.

France's President Emmanuel Macron lays a wreath of flowers on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
France's President Emmanuel Macron lays a wreath of flowers on the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Photo: Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP

Paris’ traditional WWII commemorations began on the Champs-Elysees avenue, with the president laying a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle, the wartime French resistance leader and later founding president of France’s Fifth Republic.

Macron reviewed troops before laying a second wreath and reigniting the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

With the Covid-19 pandemic easing in France, it was the first time since 2019 that spectators were permitted.

Later on Sunday, Macron will discuss the Ukraine war with G7 leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, before marking Europe Day in Strasbourg on Monday and then meeting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

READ ALSO: Zelensky says he invited Macron to see evidence of ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot told reporters that this year’s ceremonies “certainly took on considerable significance” given the outbreak of the Ukraine war.

“We thought war had disappeared from Europe,” she said.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian wrote on Twitter that “we won’t forget the soldiers from across the Soviet Union, including Ukrainians and Russians, who contributed to the victory” over Nazi Germany.

He added that “we reject all forms of instrumentalisation and manipulation of the memory of those who gave their lives”.

The Kremlin claims it is engaged in a “special military operation” aimed at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, and has banned using the word “war” to describe the fighting in Russian media and social networks.

Kyiv and Western governments accuse Russia of war crimes, with Zelensky likening the invasion to Nazi Germany’s war of aggression across Europe in a video published on social media on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Macron says France to ‘intensify’ military, humanitarian aid to Ukraine

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UKRAINE

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

The French government aims to have its natural gas storage reserves at full capacity by autumn, with European countries bracing for supply cuts from major supplier Russia as the Ukraine war continues, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Thursday

France to build new floating terminal to ensure gas supplies this winter

“We are ensuring the complete filling of our storage capacities, aiming to be close to 100 percent by early autumn,” and France will also build a new floating methane terminal to receive more energy supplies by ship, Borne said.

France is much less dependant on Russian gas than its neighbours, and announced earlier this week that it has not received any Russian gas by pipeline since June 15th.

Meanwhile Germany moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday as it raised the alert level under an emergency plan after Russia slashed supplies to the country.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference.

French PM Borne on Thursday also confirmed that the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) will remain in pace until the end of 2022 – this freezes the price of household gas and limits rises in electricity bills for homes to four percent.

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