Macron Pledges to Send Fighter Jets and Train Troops for Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- President Emmanuel Macron said France will send fighter jets to Ukraine and train thousands of soldiers to help the country repel Russia’s invasion.

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He added that he is working on a coalition to send instructors to the war-battered country in response to a request for support from Kyiv.

“We’re going to launch a new cooperation and announce the transfer of Mirage 2000-5s,” he said in an interview on TF1 and France 2 television channels. The jets “will allow Ukraine to protect its soil, its airspace. So from tomorrow, we’ll launch a pilot training program.”

The fresh pledges on Thursday coincide with the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, attended by world leaders including Joe Biden. In a speech earlier at an American cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the US president linked the historic backdrop to Ukraine’s struggles against Russia.

NATO allies are bolstering efforts to shore up Kyiv’s defenses as Russia’s war against Ukraine drags well into its third year and momentum has swung to the Kremlin, which has exploited Kyiv’s dwindling ammunition stocks and manpower.

Macron said five to six months were needed to train pilots and so the fighter jets could start being transferred at the end of this year. He also proposed the training of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers, as well as equipping and arming them.

Asked whether sending instructors to Ukraine would lead to escalation, he said: “The answer is no. To go and train someone in the western zone, which is a free zone in Ukraine, isn’t aggressive.”

He reiterated that the Ukrainians would only be allowed to use French weapons to hit sites in Russia from which they are being attacked. He has underlined that Europe is not at war with Moscow and that he has no intention of escalating the conflict.

Europe’s efforts to finance Ukraine’s economy and replenish its stocks of weapons have gained additional urgency amid uncertainty over the next US presidential election in November and whether Donald Trump will continue supporting Kyiv if he beats Biden. Macron recently approved the use of long-range missiles, such as Franco-British Scalps, to strike targets inside Russia.

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