France promises more tanks, armoured vehicles for Ukraine
Promise comes after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a surprise visit to Paris after securing $3bn in military aid from Germany.
France has promised to send dozens more light tanks and armoured vehicles to Ukraine and provide the necessary training for the country’s soldiers to use them effectively.
The announcement came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy flew into France late on Sunday to join French President Emmanuel Macron for a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
“In the coming weeks, France will train and equip several battalions with tens of armoured vehicles and light tanks including AMX-10RC,” the two leaders said in a joint statement on Monday after some three hours of talks.
Paris would also focus its efforts “in supporting Ukraine’s air defence capacities in order to defend its population against Russian strikes”.
The statement also warned of enhanced sanctions.
“Ukraine and France agree on the need to increase collective pressure on Russia through further sanctions to weaken Russia’s ability to continue its illegal war of aggression.”
The visit to Paris was part of Zelenskyy’s whirlwind weekend tour of several key European allies to drum up military and financial support ahead of an expected major Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces.
After securing a new $3bn military package from Germany, Zelenskyy said in Berlin on Sunday that Kyiv and its allies could make a Russian defeat “irreversible” as early as this year.
In Paris, Macron reaffirmed that France will continue to provide political, financial, humanitarian and military support to Ukraine for as long as necessary, the statement said.
A source at the French presidency told reporters that additional, more modern defence systems would be made available to Ukraine.
“Paris. With each visit, Ukraine’s defence and offensive capabilities are expanding,” Zelenskyy tweeted as he flew into the Villacoublay airbase on Sunday.
“The ties with Europe are getting stronger, and the pressure on Russia is growing.”
The French AMX-10RCs vehicles have high speed and manoeuvrability, allowing them to move quickly on the battlefield and change positions.
Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov called them a “sniper rifle on … fast wheels.”