France to train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, defence minister says

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By Reuters
France to train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, defence minister says
France to train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, defence minister says   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron has backed a proposal to train a large number of Ukrainian soldiers in the country, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu told newspaper Le Parisien on Saturday.

“The president… has approved a training plan that will allow up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers to be welcomed in France,” he said.

“They will be assigned to our units for several weeks,” he said, adding that military training for the use of Caesar howitzers had previously been offered to Ukrainian soldiers.

“But now it’s a change of scale,” Lecornu said.

The minister said France had delivered 18 Caesar howitzers so far to Ukraine and that talks were going on to send six more. On top of these, France is also weighing the delivery of ground-to-ground missiles, Lecornu said.

He also pledged that France would provide Crotale short-range anti-air missiles, which are used to intercept low-flying missiles and aircraft.

“The number (of Crotales) is being determined with the Ukrainians, but it will be significant to allow them to defend their sky,” Lecornu said.

The aim is to complete the shipment of Crotales “within two months,” Lecornu said, taking into account the necessary training of Ukrainian soldiers.

Macron said on Wednesday France will deliver radar and air defence systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks, in particular to help Ukraine protest itself from drone and missile attacks.

Paris has previously supplied Mistral shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s defence ministry posted a video on social media earlier this week aimed at giving France a gentle nudge to “win our hearts” through weapon supplies after repeated criticism that Paris has not been doing enough.