France will send old armored vehicles, new missiles to Ukraine

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PARIS (Reuters) – France will donate hundreds of old armored vehicles and new surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine in its war against Russia, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Sunday.

In an interview with La Tribune Dimanche, Lecornu said that President Emmanuel Macron, after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, had asked him to prepare a new aid package that would include older but still functional French equipment.

He said, “The Ukrainian army needs to defend a very long front line, which requires armored vehicles; this is absolutely critical for the army’s mobility and is part of Ukrainian requests.”

He said France was considering providing hundreds of VAB (Vehicle de l’Avant Blinde) front-line military carriers as early as 2024 and 2025.

The French military is gradually replacing thousands of its VABs, which first became operational in the late 1970s, with a new multi-role troop carrier.

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Topshot - Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunners of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade Kholodny Yar monitor the sky from their positions in the direction of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, amid the Russian offensive on Ukraine, February 20, 2024.  (Photo by Anatoly Stepanov/AFP) (Photo by Anatoly Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

Lecornu said France is also preparing to release a new batch of Aster 30 surface-to-air missiles for the SAMP/T system provided to Kiev.

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Aster 30 can intercept warplanes, drones and cruise missiles within a range of 120 kilometers.

“Ukraine urgently needs better ground-air defense… Russia is particularly stepping up its attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Lecornu said he had asked the government defense procurement agency DGA (Direction General de l’Armement) to make a proposal to speed up production of Aster missiles manufactured by European group MBDA.

He said Aster missiles are also being used in the Red Sea, where French warships protect maritime traffic against attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Lecornu said a decree was published last week giving the ministry powers to enforce stock levels and prioritize contracts.

France is also accelerating the development of remotely operated munitions for delivery to Ukraine as early as this summer, Lecornu said.

Macron last month suggested the possibility of European countries sending troops to Ukraine, although he cautioned there was no consensus on it as the allies agreed to step up efforts to deliver more munitions to Kiev.

(Reporting by Geert de Klerk; Editing by Nick McPhee)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,

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