France to send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine
PARIS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - France said on Tuesday it will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine and has discussed training Ukrainian pilots to fly French fighter jets as part of military assistance to Kyiv in the war with Russsia.
Speaking after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov in Paris, Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France will also send 150 army staff to Poland to train up to 600 Ukrainian soldiers per month there.
Paris has already delivered 18 Caesar howitzers to Kyiv. The additional 12 Caesar Howitzers will be funded by a 200-million-euro ($217 million) fund approved by the French parliament, Lecornu said.
"If these 12 Caesar are possible, it is because Nexter (the manufacturer) has increased production capacity," he added.
On Monday when asked about sending fighter jets to Ukraine, President Emmanuel Macron had said at a press conference in the Hague "by definition, nothing is excluded".
Lecornu reiterated that position on Tuesday, saying "there was no taboo" when asked the same question.
France's position when it came to supplying arms to Ukraine was that it should not weaken France's own defence capacity, that it should be useful and practical to help Kyiv in the war with Russia and that the weapons be used only by Ukraine to defend itself, he said.
Training Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets was "part of our discussions but no decision has yet been taken on that issue," Lecornu said.
Reznikov said on Tuesday that a decision by France this month to provide Kyiv with light AMX-10 RC armoured combat vehicles had had a "snowball" effect, with other allies later promising to send tanks.
($1 = 0.9211 euros)
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