France ramps up war support for Ukraine

Paris: France on Sunday pledged air defense systems to protect Ukrainian cities against drone strikes, as well as an expanded training program for Ukrainian soldiers, as it seeks to puncture perceptions that French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has lagged in supporting Ukraine militarily against the Russian invasion.
Up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers will be embedded with military units in France, rotating through for several weeks of combat training, more specialised training in logistics and other needs, and training on equipment being supplied by France, Defense Minister S bastien Lecornu, said in an interview published in Le Parisien.
“We are noting the fact that the war, alas, will last,” the newspaper quoted the minister as saying. “A new generation of soldiers must also be trained, to last the distance.”
France had previously trained Ukrainian artillery troops to use Caesar self-propelled howitzers it has supplied.
The expanded training that France is now offering is “a very important step,” the minister said. “We are changing the scale.”
The minister said Crotale air defense missile batteries that France is preparing to send to Ukraine “will be particularly useful in the fight against drones and against aerial bombardments.”
France has 12 of the batteries, the minister said. He didn’t specify how many of them will go to Ukraine but said “it will be significant to enable them to defend their skies.”
The aim is for Ukraine to be able to deploy them within two months, which includes the training time for Ukrainians to use them, the minister said.
France has supplied 18 Caesar artillery pieces and is in discussions to furnish six more. Lecornu said France is also studying a Ukrainian request for rocket-launched ground-strike weaponry.

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