France's Macron awards Legion of Honour to Ukraine's Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy leaves for Brussels
French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy leave for a summit in Brussels, at the Military Airport Villacoublay in Velizy-Villacoublay, France February 9, 2023. Mohammed Badra/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron has bestowed the Legion of Honour on Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a visit to Paris.

It is the highest award a French president can give to a counterpart, the Elysee Palace said in an overnight statement.

"A salute to Ukraine and its people. A salute to you, dear Volodymyr, for your courage and commitment," Macron wrote on social media.

Zelenskiy told Macron and Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz late on Wednesday that they had the opportunity to be "game changers" in the war against Russia by not hesitating in delivering heavy weapons and modern fighter jets to Ukraine.

A video posted by the Elysee presidential palace showed Macron handing the medal to Zelenskiy, dressed in his trademark khaki attire, in an opulent room. The two men shared a warm embrace and held hands as Zelenskiy responded to Macron.

"I said to the president, I said I think it's too much for me, and that's why I address it (the decoration) of course for all of our people, the Ukrainians, for our society. And a great honour to be here," Zelenskiy is heard telling those in the room.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Editing by Richard Lough and Bernadette Baum

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